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Sir Ken Of Dunsinane


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#61 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 06:36 PM

View PostCardinal Pirelli, on 30 June 2013 - 06:05 PM, said:

I can wholeheartedly recommend Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, lovely music too (you got free whisky in Edinburgh, not sure if that's a feature here). Actually, with that and Let the Right One In, NTS is doing a very nice line in supernatural theatre.

Yes, I looked at that.... now that you recommend it, I may give it further thought. I see it's playing nr King's Cross, which is quite handy for me.



#62 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 11:47 AM

Saw this on NT Live last night, the first time I've seen a show on live broadcast without having seen it 'in the flesh' too.

One certainly feels a detachment from the action, and so I admired this production more than enjoying it and becoming emotionally involved. Staging it in a church is an inspired idea - this is a case where a found space really does add to the piece - and it's well staged, even if Christopher Oram's design looked like that of the Donmar's Lear but with a lot more mud.

Strong performances, on the whole. I was more taken by Alex Kingston's Lady Macbeth than Branagh's Macbeth actually. She is brilliant in this, even if I did have a problem with sleepwalking scene. Some weird robotic choreography in there which doesn't work.

Ashford and Branagh really play up the supernatural in this- the "weird sisters" are the best I've seen, and here we actually see the dagger. But there's not enough contrast. You need the lightness to really accentuate the darkness - both literally and metaphorically.

I'd have loved to have been there - the sensual experience, and the proximity to the battle scenes would have been thrilling.



#63 peggs

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 07:37 PM

Saw this too last night, I agree it must have been pretty intense if you were there, especially tht hectic opening scene, agree with PN2 that the church setting really worked for this. I was a bit underwhelmed by Aex Kingston, very much disliked sleep walking scene and felt it started off a bit shouty, did calm down after that apart from the sleep walking but i thought she'd have been better off doing some of it rather smaller, quiieter, i appreciate in the space that might not have been that doable. Liked Sir Ken though not loved. he does make shakespeare appear as if he is just talking every day english. The weid sisters were def weird and probably a bit creepy popping out of those shutters but dont think any witches are going to scare me the way the ones did in Rupert Gould's production a few years back.

#64 Nicholas

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 12:34 AM

Saw this yesterday as well.  A play doesn't get curtain calls like this without being an experience, but I don't think it translated into a cinema show.  Consensus from the family was 'shouty' and I forgave it as I tuned myself into that theatrical-but-not-cinematic zone after a couple of minutes but I think theatrical performances and features were a problem for us cinemagoers.  I found the witches and, surprisingly, Banquo genuinely scary.  Liked but not loved Sir Ken - no-one reads Shakespeare and finds ways to read Shakespeare like him but his Macbeth didn't quite seem to evolve organically from that brilliant display of uncertainty and eagerness to a man who says "I have almost forgot the taste of fears".  Loved the dagger speech.  What are opinions here on "Life's but a walking shadow"?  Alex Kingston's sleepwalking was prime ham but I adored her unsex me and basically everything she did before that.  I found the build-up to the murder thrilling like a thriller (that sense of being overheard, the claustrophobia, the uncertainty, all did translate) - most of the beginning worked for me, as did most of the ending, but not to make me whoop as critics who actually saw this did.  I liked it all but didn't see a show warranting its hype.  When I see a production of a play I know well(ish) and find something new I never know whether to thank the production or if it's just me, but the contradictions inherent to the play ("So foul and fair a day I have not seen", "Father'd he is, and yet he's fatherless") became a more noticable feature for me.

I've seen a couple of NT Lives before the show (in fact, Jacobi's Lear was one) and they've worked fine as cinema, but here I think we very much saw filmed theatre.  Apparently normally in NT Live shows the actors rehearse at toning down theatrical performances to cinema level and I imagine they didn't have time here.  I do think most of my issues with this come from its near impossibility to translate to cinema despite the word cinematic appearing in every review - once or twice I'd imagine being in one of those benches as actors are thrown at you in the midst of fights and that'd wow me to no end, and four (almost five) curtain calls says something.  And of course I'd rather have seen this imperfectly than not at all.

#65 Monteverdi

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 01:17 PM

Emma Freud once again managed to be hideously embarrassing and patronising and ask terrible questions. How has she got this job!!

#66 zyx123

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 01:49 PM

To be honest I wish they would just show the damn play. Get rid of introductions, interviews, features.

Anyway, the Macbeth was nice enough, nothing spectacular. Thought the sword fights looked a bit naff up close, although they might have been going easy after what happened earlier in the run.

#67 igb

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 05:01 PM

I was unimpressed, and came away thinking that in comparison, the RSC Macbeth with Slinger, which in general terms got "meh" reviews, looks like a decade-defining triumph.

Firstly, the front matter is really annoying.  I was in a full, small (arts centre) cinema, and the foot shuffling while Emma Freud tossed non-questions and got non-answers (most of the form "yes, I'm brilliant, and Ken is brilliant too, thanks for asking so brilliantly, Em") was pretty palpable.  God knows what it would have been like in a larger venue.

Secondly, I'm aware of the problems involved in lighting both for a local audience and for video, and the compromises involved in colour matching it all.  However, the general aesthetic was like watching one of those video tapes that the RSC used to do: murky colour, blocked up shadows, no "sparkle".  In passing, I don't know what bandwidth was in use, but the motion artefacts on the sword fights, in particular, were annoying as well.

In terms of the production, I thought they had a nice set but not an idea in their heads.  Having got all the mud, they had to do a lot of fighting, and given the play was cut to ribbons anyway, every minute's fighting was more text gone.  The lengthy fight sequence at the beginning, replacing "What bloody man is that? He can report" and so on, bored me rigid.  The witches were risible (contrast the spectral children in Boyd's production, who were genuinely chilling, or the nurses in Goold's, who were shocking).  The porter was even more annoying than usual.

Actors?  John Shrapnel is great, isn't he?  Otherwise, Branagh was phoning it in and Alex Kingston, poor girl, started out well (although she'd not done up her dress at the back and her distinctly not-of-the-era bra was sticking out) but without much in the way of direction, fairly soon started screeching and just got screechier. The sleepwalking scene like something out of a Nicholas Craig mockumentary.  One of Emma's questions was about who was directing Ken when he was also a co-director, and the answer wasn't terribly clear: once you'd seen the performance, however, the answer was a pretty obvious "no-one".

As others have said, the whole thing was SHOUTED as though they were invoking the ghost of the old RST and wanted to make the back row sit up.   It must have been pretty full-on in the venue itself; close-miked and delivered over speakers the effect was almost comedic.  Most of the leads have extensive TV and Film experience, so it's not like they're old hams who aren't ready for their closeups.  I assume that the people in the audience got in cheap to allow for the cameras, and there were a hell of a lot more people in cinemas than in the venue, so it wouldn't have hurt anyone to have dialled it down a bit.  I thought the Ross was good, and most of the time MacDuff was good as well, but the overall effect was a bit am-dram.

I was glad to have seen it, and I suspect that although I'm a regular cinema goer and a regular theatre goer a lot of my problems with it are about the compromises.  But I was, overall, rather underwhelmed.

Younger daughter and wife liked it, mind.




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