One of the things on my list of 100 things to do before the Grim Reaper comes to claim me was seeing a play by Shakespeare. It’s addictive. While it’s no goal to see all plays, by now I have seen three: Richard III, A Midsummernight’s Dream—with a storm scene that is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen in a theater. This year this production is on tour in The Netherlands: go see it—and Macbeth by Toneelgroep Amsterdam was the third.
While I was vaguely familiar with the plot, I hadn’t actually read the play. I mean to bust out my copy of The Complete Works, but I never got ’round to it. Lugging that book around isn’t exactly an option, so the night before I downloaded a pretty decent ebook version, put that on my ereader, and the next day I kept on reading until the play started.
In short, Macbeth is the story of a Scottish noblemen who becomes king and goes mad with power. And then there’s witches dancing ’round a cauldron while chanting spells that any self-respecting black metal band should have appropriated by now:
How awesomely wicked is that. Throw some evil riffs against that and, by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Anyway.
Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s production, well, at first it was hard to keep up. Some actors played multiple roles, sometimes within the same scene. Some characters were only implied. And then I got the hang of it. The setting was sparse but effective, and in the end all that’s left was one big bloody mess. Murder, blood, madness, and wicked witches. What’s not to like? (The Rabozaal of Amsterdam’s Stadsschouwburg. No legroom for people who have long legs that just won’t stop, that’s what.)
Seen live: Macbeth by Toneelgroep Amsterdam on August 17, 2011 at Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam. Director: Johan Simons. Translation: Hugo Claus. With Fedja van Huêt, Chris Nievelt, Hans Kesting, Fred Goessens and Roeland Fernhout.
- Book read
- William Shakespeare — Macbeth
- First line
- An open place. Thunder and lightning. Enter three WITCHES.
When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?