This past weekend my wife and I were able to take in a Guthrie Theater presentation of Macbeth. I have always wanted to become more familiar with the works of William Shakespeare but you know how life goes, sometimes we just don’t find the time. Well, this was the time.
The production was a modernized version of Macbeth set in 1960’s Africa with all of it’s ongoing strife. Frankly the setting worked out fine because you can easily imagine imperial or tribal strife that could easily consume a kingdom and a leader.
The play started out with a very lively African almost tribal dance that immediately pulled you into the action. Then we are quickly introduced to the main characters.
A very interesting twist to the setting was that even though it was set in Africa and most of the actors appeared to be of African decent, the script was still written as though they were in Scotland. This became a slight cognitive dissonance yet at the same time there were able to pull it off without much distraction.
Another interesting device that they used in the play was a bit of audience participation. The play started out with the audience standing around the area where the introduction dance was occurring and the characters with dancing and moving among the audience. This helped to bring the audience into the action. Then throughout the play we moved from room to room as the scene changed. I enjoyed this moving around and again it helped to keep your attention focused on the action.
Even though the play was set in Africa, the actors used British accents and they were still using old English for the dialog. I find that due to the differences in the use of language from what we hear normally, I did not catch every word but all in all I captured every thought. The themes of the play came through very clearly. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were consumed with ambition, that ambition lead to acts of treachery. The continued decent into complete wickedness or madness is an unstoppable force.
As a Christian you know even then God can intervene and clean up the vilest of offenders, but ones choices do indeed have consequences (See story of King David). Choose wisely.
Overall, I enjoyed the production and would recommend it to you. Get out to the theater!