Both times I saw this I just reveled in being there. In the bowl of a Victorian Strolling Park, with actual stars overhead and lightning on the horizon, lounging on cushions while a troupe of blood-smeared entertainers with big swords descended into murder and psychosis for me. Both times I had only a few dollars to put into their silver urn, but I'd give more if I had it.
The first time we saw it, we met friends right away in the audience, and put our blankets by theirs. The second time, we met witches. Not actor witches, but the real kind who said, "Blessed be," and complimented my mother on her moonstone necklace. Insects abounded, but there were dragonflies to eat the greater part of the mosquitos, and anyway, it was worth it. One couple had brought two folding chairs, a little table, and their own candlelight. My mother said, "They've been doing this a while."
It has been so long since I've read or seen Macbeth that the first time through, I laughed out loud a lot for the sheer joy of phrasing. Maybe because it was early in the run or maybe because my concentration sat more lightly upon me, that first time I saw it, much of the play struck me as funny. I don't think it was supposed to, but there you have it. The wit of it caught my fancy, not the blood and the consequences. The second time the play's intent sank further, thrust truer.
Both nights Macduff made me cry.
JP Driscoll's performance was one of three stand-outs for me. Most of the play he was a solid, somber presence on the stage, but where he blazed out to my eyes, where he made the darkness descend, was the scene wherein Ross tells Macduff that his family has been slaughtered. His face. His face! He had the look of a man who's just been told his family has been slaughtered. That's harder to do than you'd think, I think, on a summer's night, on a simple set, with a spotlight on you. It was a moment of profound, astonishing grief.
Emily Trask's Lady Macbeth did me in on several levels. What I liked most about her was her fearless physicality. She used all levels of her body and all the space around - slamming down to one knee, or thrusting out her arms, as if she could manipulate the air around her, extend it like tentacles. She was a slight red-head, with moments of childlike enthusiasm that cracked her icy stillness. Lady Mac is used to being the smartest person she knows, and I think that showed through Trask's performance - a sort of scornful frustration at being so brilliant and so patronized that she would do everything in her power to have power over those who condescended to her. Oh, I liked it. I liked the way she smashed things.
The third performance that really scintillated for me was Michael Hinton's Angus/Murderer 2/Old Man. You know how sometimes there's one actor who just seems more alive on stage? Who pays attention to everything that's going on around him, who pretends SO HARD on stage, he bends reality to him, and you start seeing halls and heaths and haunts where none exist? The kind of actor who does the audience's work FOR them, because we don't even need to suspend our disbelief when he's believing so hard for us.
I guess that's mostly what I wanted to say about that. There are things I would have done differently as a director (not that I've directed anything ever), and things I'd've liked to try as an actor (like Nick Bottom, I'd play any part), but the play itself ignited my mind and I am always grateful for that.
Here are some lines I liked (from the first time I saw it), because obviously I can't just quote you the whole play…
Full of scorpions is my mind.
To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.
Stars hide your fires.
I am reckless in what I do to spite the world.
Tis said they did eat each other.
Go take thy face hence.
Turn, hellhound, turn.
The cistern of my lust.
At least we'll die with harness on our back.
Approach the room and destroy your sight with a new gorgon.