the scottish play

Another Stratford outing, begun with high hopes, sadly dashed.

I certainly do not want to denigrate the Stratford Festival. It consistently produces world-class theatre, and we are privileged to claim it as our own. Given that the level of performance is so high, one can be disappointed and highly critical when it falls short of one’e expectations - mine, anyway. Very short. I didn’t believe any of the actors, but one: Scott Wentworth. He is a consistently powerful performer, no matter what he plays, and utterly believable. I didn’t believe Macbeth for a minute. I couldn’t see him thinking and getting seduced by the witches and his own ambition. I just heard him shouting as he tried to convey conviction with more noise. And poor Lady Macbeth couldn’t get a fix on her role. She was a cute, sexy lady welcoming her warrior husband home; then she was a simpering hostess as she welcomed her king, Duncan. Then she became a fastidious wife and helpmeet expressing disgust at her messy, bloody hands. I don’t know how she played her walking nightmare. She had lost me by then. The best scene between her and her husband was silent. A long silence as she watched him wash away his battle stains and they both thought about his change of fortune, gave us a chance to think, too, and guess at their subsequent behaviour. It was the only sub-text they used.

The rest of the company was too fresh out of the Birmingham Conservatory, I guess (the in-house training school for rookie actors). They all still sounded as if they were reciting Shakespeare. Except Scott Wentworth. I still miss Brian Bedford. No matter what he was playing he spoke his lines as if they had just occurred to him. He made us part of his thought process.

You already know how I feel about standing ovations. This performance didn’t deserve one, at least the players didn’t. You can’t fault Stratford for production, though. The fights were great.

It was a long day, and I’m still behind in my blogs.

Anon, anon.