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David Hugh Jones
WARNING: if you do not know the play Macbeth, I refer to the ending, so please do not read this if you wish to keep the ending a surprise!*****
Most of the later, stylized BBC Shakespeare TV-films have impressed me to some degree. Not so, Macbeth. While the highly stylized setting was effective in parts, the actors seemed to misunderstand much of the play, the ironies and character development. Lady Macbeth was especially guilty of this, during the speech in which she asks the "spirits which tend on mortal thoughts" to unsex her. The point of the speech is that Lady Macbeth is asking to be made sexless, remorseless and resolute. This Lady Macbeth, however, throws herself onto the (convenient) bed, legs spread wide in an almost masturbatory speech. I began to wonder at this point if she had actually read the play, or was being given her lines scene at a time! Sadly, the performance only got worse. Macbeth was marginally better, although the use of the "evil" rasping voice for his murderous thoughts, contrasted with the "manly" voice in the parts where his conscience is awakened makes for a very two dimensional tragic hero. Yes, that's right, Macbeth is a tragic hero, who is bought to downfall by his ambition and paranoia. Instead, the interpretation Jack Gold has given the play turns it into something resembling a 19th century melodrama, with an evil villain, pious king and Malcolm, and a heroic Macduff, completely ignoring the irony of Malcolm's statement of Macbeth as a butcher (Macduff, carrying Macbeth's head is visually the only butcher on stage) and the fiend-like Lady Macbeth (who we last saw wracked with guilt, sleep walking, only to kill herself later out of despair in the knowledge of what they have done). The introduction of the Weird Sisters, who rise out of stone was impressive. It is a pity the rest of the production did not follow suit.
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