Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

As many of you know, I spent Thanksgiving in Pasadena with friends, one of whom introduced me to the joy that is Slings and Arrows (appropriately, her own blog is called Little But Fierce). I had heard about this Canadian comedy for years, but had conflated it in my mind with Due South (both star Paul Gross), a show I had sampled but wasn’t much interested in.

Slings and Arrows revolves around the fictitious New Burbage Festival, a stand-in for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival just outside of Toronto—and believe me, I’m now kicking myself for not checking this festival out when I was in nearby Kitchener-Waterloo. Each season (there are three, with six episodes each) the local company takes on a different play, first Hamlet, then Macbeth, and finally King Lear, with the arc of the season somewhat mimicking the play itself. If you have any interest in theatre, particularly Shakespeare, hie thee to Netflix to add this remarkable show to your queue.

Shakespeare has been much on my mind of late. For starters, Macbeth was one of my book challenge should-reads for the year (being the only one of the major tragedies that I hadn’t read). I hadn’t liked it when I read it back in March, as the misogyny really struck me forcibly at the time. However, that may have been due to the type of books I had been reading in February, which had a distinctly feminist slant.

However, I recently revisited the story with the BBC film that aired on PBS this fall and was forced to reconsider my opinion. The film stars Patrick Stewart and updates the setting to a 1930s(ish) Scotland. Unsurprisingly, Stewart gives an incredible performance (I will never forget being blown away by his one-man show of A Christmas Carol years ago), but the real revelation for me was Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth—she really brought the character alive. Also, transforming the witches into hospital nurses was a truly inspired touch; they brought just the right amount of modern creepiness. If you didn’t get a chance to catch this on PBS, try to watch it when it comes out on DVD this January. You won’t be disappointed.


Anonymous said...

Did you see the CalShakes Macbeth? They also had the witches as hospital nurses...sort of. They were in an insane asylum, and they had no faces, and they were goddamn creepy. It was pretty cool.

Stasia said...

So gonna check out Patrick Stewart's MacBeth (loved him as Scrooge on Broadway)!

Sylvie said...

SB: Not only had I not read the play, I have never seen it performed! Which is completely ridiculous given that I've even seen Coriolanus.

Stasia: Hope you enjoy it!