Sunday, October 12, 2008
Amok at "That Play"
The fabulous Karen Nitkin -- freelance writer and friend extraordinaire -- took me to see "the Scottish Play" Friday night. Our local Shakespeare troupe, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, stages great productions of The Bard's plays. They perform outdoors at the ruins of a women's school in old Ellicott City. We've taken the kids to two summer productions -- A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. Both excellent. Are the kids too young for Shakespeare? Nay! We prep by reading picture book versions together. Maybe watch "Shakespeare -- The Animated Tales" and they are good to go. Being familiar with the plot, characters, and a few famous speeches is enough for kids to enjoy live Shakespeare. The costumes, props and acting do the rest. However -- Miss J was not so sure about seeing Macbeth. Her "Stories from Shakespeare" --retold by Nicole Baxter -- has a drawing of Banquo's ghost that gives her nightmares. She settled for my promises to tell her all about it. Both kids were hysterical and intrigued about the "curse" on this play. I taught them that they must call it "That Play" or "The Scottish Play." Check out this article on the curse from the Austin Chronicle. Karen and I chatted as we trudged up the hill to the ruins. Then we realized the play was starting in the parking lot. No fourth wall tonight! We trudged back down -- good thing it was a beautiful night. The audience participation was cool. During the early scenes of the play, the audience followed the Scottish generals around on a dark battlefield as if we were infantrymen. Another scene that worked well was the banquet where Banquo's ghost appears (great acting, BTW). We sat around tables as if we were partying with Macbeth and his cohorts. It added depth to a scene where Macbeth's cracks are starting to show. But, as Karen pointed out, it was a bit much. We never sat for more than 15 minutes and often stood, wrangling for a view. The last scene was played in near darkness. Here comes Macduff with -- what is that he's holding? Macbeth's head on a stick?! Glad I didn't bring the kids. The prop head looked enough like the actor to be freaky. So, Karen and I got our exercise. The leads were terrific. Loved the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech. Loved how Lady Macbeth appeared physically smaller as the weight of her actions caught up with her conscience. Look for a link to Karen's theater review in the Baltimore Sun later this week. Next summer, the troupe has the comedy "Twelfth Night" on its schedule. It's Miss J's absolute favorite. We can't wait! I know it's been over two weeks, but I can't let go of the Dodge Festival yet. A bit more on that this week.