Review: Macbeth… I mean…. The Scottish Play

My apologies for this rather belated review of National Theater Live’s (NTL) stream of Macbeth at The Michigan which occurred on Sunday the 27th of October.

This is the third performance Michigan Theater has streamed from NTL in London. This was my least favorite. There were some elements I appreciated but over all it was a disappointing performance. Although this production starred Kenneth Branagh as the Scottish king and Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, and was directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, staged in an abandoned church and ran with out an intermission, there were many problems.

Personally I am not a fan of Kenneth Branagh, he always comes across as a highly arrogant and self important person, no matter the role he play. Granted many of the roles he has played, Gildaroy Lockhart (Harry Potter) and Hamlet, are considerably narcissistic characters. However, I find him to be an unappealing actor.

Alex Kingston did a lovely job as Lady Macbeth. Although she seemed to have a little problem with over-acting at times.

The staging of this production in an abandoned church was the best choice made by the artistic director. The aisle was the stage, covered in earth which became muddy from the rain which fell from the ceiling during scene 1 act 1, effectively creating the feeling that we were in the Scottish highlands.

The actors abandoned Shakespeare’s essential iambic pentameter, which was an odd choice. Sometimes the rhythmic speech indicative of this style can detract from the story, I didn’t find it to be a bothersome artistic choice in this case. However, the ernest delivery of EVERY SINGLE LINE was rather annoying. There wasn’t much difference in speech where something banal was happening, and those where someone was murdered or murdering. Rather tiresome.

There were a good number of sword fights in this play. They were stiff and over-rehearsed. I can appreciate the difficulty of this kind of physical acting and staging, but at this level of professional theater, I expected better.

Last, but certainly not least, the filming… oh dear god the filming. For some reason the videographer decided to get creative with the arial shots. Considering the live audience would never have had an opportunity to see the production from that particular angle, this was an unfortunate choice.

By the end, we all had to pee. You would have too if you’d sat through close to 3 hours of Shakespeare right after dinner. Coming into this production I didn’t expect great things, due to my dislike of Kenneth Branagh. I left having my minimal expectations met, which is shocking because this production was well received and reviewed when it was on stage earlier this year.

So it goes.

Preview: Macbeth

National Theater Live: Macbeth Trailer

What: Shakespeare
Where: Michigan Theater
When: Sunday 27 October 7.00pm
How Much: $22

The Michigan Theater has been screening performances for London’s National Theater through out the fall. This production of Macbeth will be their final until February.

Starring Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, My Week With Marilyn) and Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER) as Lady Macbeth. Directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh.

Should be a thrilling production, the perfect way to usher in Halloween.

Review: Othello

This was one of the most incredible Shakespeare productions I have ever seen.

Starring Rory Kinnear as Iago and Adrian Lester as Othello, this National Theater Live cast is a fantastic adaptation of this production. I have never been so impressed by Shakespeare.

REVIEW: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This film was the first DVD my household possessed, back when VHS was just becoming a things of the past. May sick days were spent watching this film. As well as many moments of showing off our new gadgetry in the early 2000’s. I grew up on this film, and it’s charms are not lost on me.

Unfortunately there were two 40-odd-year-old woman sitting behind me who knew the ins and outs of Ferris’ day off as well as I do. However, their appreciation came in the form of quoting all of the greatest lines moments before they were spoken on screen, stirring my urge to spit soda at them through a straw. But I resisted.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is by far my favorite John Hughes movie. Although I enjoy the quirky charms of the horrible prom dress in Pretty in Pink and the motley crew starring in The Breakfast Club, Ferris’ charm, wit and comedic timing never fail to amuse me and capture my attentions.

Matthew Broderick peaks in his performance, perhaps topped only by his Broadway Debut opposite the brilliant Nathan Lane in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” Broderick is adorable, likeable, charming, lovable and crafty. If only all high school students were that brilliant at skipping school. Think of the possibilities.

Alan Ruck (Spin City), as Ferris’ best friend Cameron Frye, steals the show every time. His repeated lines, facial expressions and physical comedy are unrivaled by any other in this flick. Cameron is the character who goes through the most significant character arch, beginning with his fatalistic view of the world and his life, and ending with his decision to take control of his future.

I wouldn’t categorize this film as a coming of age story so much as a pleasant window into the lives of teenagers in the 80’s.

Definitely watch this film. Make your children watch it too.

PREVIEW: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

What: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Where: Michigan Theater
When: Monday 30th September, 7pm
How Much: $8 Student Tickets

Released in 1986, Directed by John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club) starring Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck. A fun-filled movie about ditching High School in the 80’s. Takes place in Chicago, contains many splendid moments of hijinx, not to mention a spontaneous dance number to the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout”

If you haven’t seen this film, there is something seriously wrong with what you were doing in Middle School.

Review: Harold and Maude

“Harold and Maude” is a quirky yet wonderful story about an unlikely friendship between a misanthropic young man Harold and a geriatric widow Maude. Amidst re-planting trees which deserve better lives, riding motor cycles, sunflower appreciation, tea time and singing Harold and Maude fall in love.

Although I have seen it many times before, seeing it on the big screen was a unique experience.