“A Tragedy of the Imagination”

I recently finished watching Rupert Goold’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart and was blown away. The adaptation keeps the Scottish locations and names, but sets it in a bleak, gloomy environment that is essentially an old run-down hospital morgue, with Stalinist soviet-era costumes, weapons, and sensibilities. Amazing performances aside, simply the aesthetic that Goold created in this adaptation is enough to keep you drawn in completely. There is a constant air of menace and distress, every shot is dark, grimy, dirty, and the three witches (portrayed here as blood-soaked nurses) are frightening. Not to mention the blood. There is a lot of blood in this production, which is fitting since the word “blood” is spoken a good 50 or so times throughout the whole play.

The main hook of this production for me though was of course Patrick Stewart as the titular tragic Macbeth, a character full of unchecked ambition, and a desire for a new world (even at the cost of the old one). If you’re familiar with Macbeth then you’re aware that this unchecked ambition doesn’t go so well for Ol’ McB, as he is eventually beheaded by the Thane of Fife, Macduff. In the few productions of this play that I have seen, the director and actors make it clear that this final duel between the Macs is Macbeth’s final push for his ultimate goal; his fight against spiritual prophecy that has predetermined his failure. What makes this production different and exciting is the director’s ability to make it clear that it is not Macduff who ultimately brings Macbeth’s undoing, but rather Macbeth’s own readiness to be killed. It’s almost as if he’s given up, allowed his death to happen, he no longer cares for this world he has fought for, and I believe that the best way Patrick Stewart makes that choice apparent to the audience is in his “tomorrow” soliloquy.

Admittedly, this speech is in my top five favorite Shakespeare monologues. It completely encapsulates Macbeth’s nihilistic attitude towards life in about twelve lines.

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

Brilliant. And Patrick Stewart brings his own equally brilliant adaptation to this monologue. Just take a gander:

Upon hearing the news of his wife’s death, he hardly takes a pause and responds completely cold, not a single utterance of grief at the passing (by her own hand) of his wife. The speech carries on with Macbeth’s sudden realization that time, “tomorrow”, will forever spin forward; completely painful, and completely meaningless. The anguish on his face at the third “tomorrow” is heartbreaking, the way he looks down to his diseased wife on “all our yesterdays” and the disdain with which he says “out, out brief candle” show that he has completely given up.

Man, I can talk about this monologue for hours, but just go ahead and watch it. And then watch the whole production, it’s on Netflix so check it out, it’s pretty fantastic.

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Spider-Man: Turn Off the Injuries

There was a promise that I made to myself that I would refrain from writing about anything that was happening in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark for at least a year.  Then last week happened, and I’m going to have to break that promise.  Don’t worry, I’ll make it up to myself.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been widely criticized for its delay of performances, canceled previews, and massive budget, but things became much more serious last week when another injury occurred.  On December 20, actor Christopher Tierney fell 30 feet while performing a stunt in the show.  The performance was immediately canceled, as the curtain fell with seven minutes left to go in the second act.  Tierney was immediately taken to the hospital where it was discovered the fall produced a fractured skull, a broken scapula, a broken arm, four broken ribs, a bruised lung, and three fractured vertebrae.

Anyone keeping up with this show knows that this is not the first injury to happen in the show.  Actress Natalie Mendoza, who was playing the character Arachne, suffered a concussion during the first preview performance of the musical.  Since the second preview, the role had been played by her understudy and another actress until Mendoza could return to the show.

Earlier this week it was reported that Mendoza was in talks to leave the show.  Today it was officially announced that she would no longer be apart of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  Though there has been no official statement for her reasoning for leaving the show, it should be noted that a series of injuries in the cast may have at least had an influence on her.  Remember, besides her and Tierney’s accidents, Kevin Aubin broke both of his wrists while performing a stunt from the show for a group of investors.

Here’s hoping there will be no more injuries plaguing the Foxwoods Theare.