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James Mcavoy - Macbeth At Trafalgar Studios


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#91 abs2512

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:46 AM

I never studied Shakespeare in school and as an adult I have tried to read some of his ‘lighter’ works and always given up.  I have however seen a number of his plays, The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing, are the two most recent ones that come to mind.

As shallow as this may sound, I only purchased tickets to see Macbeth because James Mcavoy was cast as the lead.  I had no idea of the plot, although I had read a very short synopsis of the play, so when I sat down I knew it was about a man who had a strange meeting with three witches, who told him that he was to be king of Scotland but to enable him to take his place on the throne he had to go on a killing spree to murder each successor to the throne, whether it was a adult or a child, in line before him.  He was also told that his downfall would be by somebody coming from a forest who was not ‘naturally’ born to his mother.

I was also told that Lady Macbeth was pivotal in the role she played as she was as ruthless in her desire to become queen as Macbeth to become king.  It was explained to me by a two very good friends on the night that the relationship between Lady M and M was very sexual and passionate so I was expecting fireworks on stage between these two – I didn’t get fireworks, I didn’t ever feel a spark which is a shame as I though JM was incredibly sexy and very charismatic, his whole body oozed sex appeal and I felt it was wasted on Claire Foy as Lady M, she had about as much sex appeal as my little toe (harsh, but true IMO).

My biggest problem was with the witches and their gas masks – I find Shakespeare’s words hard enough to follow, so combine that with a Scottish accent and then add gas masks, I was lost completely, although it didn’t stop my enjoyment of the play.

One small word about the stage seats, if you are going to sit in these seats, don’t fall asleep, especially when Macbeth is doing a monologue directed right at you.

And finally a word about Alison McKenzie (Lady McDuff), she died better than anyone else I have ever seen die on stage.


Overall I enjoyed what I saw and would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone, even if, like me, they have no idea about the plot etc.  
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#92 Epicoene

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:52 AM

View Postmallardo, on 19 February 2013 - 03:11 PM, said:

Indeed, an excellent review.  I have stage seats myself so I'm glad to learn that the view is better than it was for Equus.  A small note, "flaccid" has two c's.

Where do you stand on the pronunciation of this word ?  Are you in the FLASS-ID or FLAX-ID camp ? The latter always irritates me for some reason though it is historically valid. I suppose I conflate it with the absurd American practice of pronouncing "asked" as "axed".

#93 mallardo

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:18 PM

I say Flass although HG will probably read something into that.

But in defense of Americans - I am one - let me say that only those of the George W Bush pursuasion would ever say "axed".  It is not common practice.
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#94 Epicoene

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:08 PM

View Postmallardo, on 22 February 2013 - 01:18 PM, said:

I say Flass although HG will probably read something into that.

But in defense of Americans - I am one - let me say that only those of the George W Bush pursuasion would ever say "axed".  It is not common practice.

Interesting. I lived in USA a long time ago and at that time the use of "axed" was split clearly along ethnic lines.

#95 Honoured Guest

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:24 PM

I've never set foot on the Americas but my first comment on this discussion so far is to observe that the USA is rather large and diverse and so one would expect the pronunciation of every word to vary from place to place and from speaker to speaker.

My personal gripe on the subject of pronunciation is that, since the encroachment of a limited degree of mass literacy and education, many more people pronounce many words phonetically instead of in the traditional ways. When did you last hear anyone say "forehead" so as to rhyme with "horrid" for example?

#96 Bovery

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:33 PM

Press night is over, and here are the first reactions from...the press, of course:




Quote


Nick Clark@MrNickClark

James McAvoy's Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios is superb... and the dystopian future setting works surprisingly well. Compelling stuff





Quote


Mark Shenton@ShentonStage

James McAvoy's authentically Scottish-accented performance in the title role is raw & riveting; a man driven mad by his own violence.



#97 Stevemar

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:25 AM

I enjoyed this a lot - saw it in previews about a week before opening. We were fortunate enough to have front row seats - not on the stage, where some people were definitely splashed and the reactions from the audience there were quite amusing to some of the more dramatic scenes - one lady's reactions to a brutal killing and Macbeth seemingly addressing her were amusing.

James McAvoy was outstanding, as hoped for and even his character's stammer from Three Days of Rain made a comeback. On a superficial note, he certainly introduces a new line in "distressed" knitwear. He brought a ruthlessness to the role, but also captured the light and shade in a mostly "bang, flash, bang" production. I thought Claire Foy was quite hesistant but still fine and but I always got the impression that Lady Macbeth is seen as more controlling. Personally, I found Jamie Ballard far too shouty although others seem to disagree - I would say though, this was during the previews. When I saw this a week ago, I thought the critics might be divided, but it seems to be 4* across the board.

As for the production, as well as the bloodiest one I have seen, maybe Jamie Lloyd overdid the soundtrack/strobe lighting, which then made the quieter scenes almost too slow. On the thread, there seems to have been quite a lot of criticism of his style (or lack of style) but I have found his productions of The Pride, Three Days of Rain and Donmar (Piaf, Passion and even Polar Bears - yes!) very good at focussing on the characters and with excellent support from the lighting/set design. Perhaps though he was overwhelmed by the Olivier stage on She Stoops to Conquer, but this marks a welcome return to form.

#98 paplazaroo

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 09:30 AM

Mostly great reviews, 3 stars from Billington who comes across like an old man banging on the walls of those pesky kids next door.

#99 armadillo

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 09:55 AM

View Postpaplazaroo, on 25 February 2013 - 09:30 AM, said:

Mostly great reviews, 3 stars from Billington who comes across like an old man banging on the walls of those pesky kids next door.
  I've not seen it yet but I'm certainly in agreement with Billington that no production of Macbeth (or,dare I say it, any Shakespeare play) needs to be three hours

#100 Poly

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:16 AM

Reading the press reviews and comparing it with my experience, it seems that they sorted some of the pace problems in the second half. I agree that the production is more energy and action than it is contemplation but it's so exciting that anything lost is easily forgiven.

A word of warning about seating: the stage seats away from centre can be considerably restricted.  

I am planning to see it again, hopefully with a £15 ticket. It will be fun to see it with an audience that has paid only £15.




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