I go to see Sir Ken of Branagh in Macbeth

I went to see Kenneth Branagh in Macbeth yesterday.

Not personally, as in him, not me.

If you see what I mean?

Although reading that back, you probably don’t, but it’s too hard to change it now, and my head hurts.

It was one of those filmed theatre experiences, where you see it live, but on a screen in a cinema.  Which was about the only way we were going to get to see it, as the actual run sold out within nine minutes of the tickets going on sale.

Nine minutes.

Bloody hell.

So we went to our local arts cinema, and sat in comfy seats eating our Magnums and waving at Ken.

It also had Alex Kingston wot used to be in ER and is now River Song in Dr. Who as Lady Macbeth.

The play took place in a deconsecrated church in Manchester, which was quite a cool setting.

It did look fab.

For the most part I enjoyed it.  As you would expect, our Ken was rather splendid, and he really can deliver the lines.  He makes it seem effortless, and you really actually understand what he’s saying, which is no mean feat when it comes to Shakespeare.

And he doesn’t sound poncey.

Alex Kingston was good too.  She made Lady Macbeth seem human, and not some vicious, blood seeking harpy.  Although there is that element to her as well, but it makes more sense in the context of her not being some pantomime villain.

It was a good ensemble piece of acting. The whole cast was pretty strong, and you felt like it was a real team effort.

I did, however, have a few gripes and grumbles.  I am not called Outraged (ex) of Broughton Astley for nothing.

Firstly, I was really glad I was seeing the play on film.  The camera work was good, and tracked the actors up and down the church so you didn’t miss anything if you were in the cinema audience.  I feel that had you been in the actual audience you would have been getting neck ache from tennising your head back and forth all the time, and also there would have been parts of the play that most people wouldn’t have seen, depending on which bit of the church they were sitting in, just because the shape of a church doesn’t really lend itself that way to watching theatrical manoeuvring unimpeded.

Secondly, the acoustics in the church and the actors being mic’d for the cameras meant that everything was very loud, and at times it all got a bit ‘SHOUTY’, which I don’t like. Shouting is not acting. I can shout. I can’t act.

The acoustics also meant at times that the words were rather hard to hear, particularly the witches, who were rather too shrieky. I couldn’t hear a thing they said.

And that brings me to my biggest bug bear. Why do modern Macbeth’s tend to go for the female lunatic version of the witches? Why do they have to twitch and gibber and shriek and writhe across each other with torn vests on? It’s so boring. I can’t like it.  Bring me different witches I say.  Bring me interesting witches with personalities and stuff going on, and not mob handed tarts who look like Pans People after a particularly raucous dance routine.

Enough with the bitch witches, that’s what I say.

I might run a ‘reclaim the witch’ campaign.

After all that, it was pretty good fun all things considered, although why they filled the church aisle with boggy peat and then ran up and down it in bare feet all the time I really can’t say.  I kept worrying for the wardrobe mistress.  I suspect she gets through a lot of Vanish.

I realise I now owe you my own version of Macbeth.

I will work on it.


3 responses to “I go to see Sir Ken of Branagh in Macbeth

  1. Oooh, brilliant casting of Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, would love to see the performance just for that alone. And the witches should be darkly intense not raving loonies as so often portrayed. Do you think it will be released on DVD?

    With you on the shouty, shouty stuff, it’s one of the reasons I seldom go to the cinema these days – live performances of anything being mostly out of the question here in the backwoods. To be willing to endure the ensuing headache I have to be really desperate to see the film.

  2. Sounds well worth seeing. Nota Bene over at Don’t Panic saw it live from the front row, if you want to read his account: http://bradstockboys.blogspot.ca/2013/07/its-grim-up-north.html

    I’m in Toronto for the summer, but have not managed to get tickets to anything except Neil Gaiman’s last signing tour. My eldest B and I are going, and I’ve committed to queuing as long as needed so she can get a signing of Ocean at the End of the Lane. We all three went to hear him read for the Graveyard Book tour, but I wouldn’t let her join the queue as she had an exam the next day; she is still cross.

  3. Sharon, I’m not sure. I think there are copyright issues because the sets etc all belong to different people.

    Sonya – thanks for this. Good luck with the Gaiman queue. x

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