Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Manchester, Museums and Macbeth: Part 2

So, after our slightly scary and very confusing attempt to appreciate cutting edge art, we made our way to Castlefield for the big screen broadcast of Macbeth. 

The live production was staged in the (deconsecrated) St Peter's Church in Ancoats, so ticketing was pretty limited.

We were in the slightly less atmospheric venue of the NCP Car park at Bridgewater Hall, which is basically a large expanse of tarmac surrounded by high rise blocks of flats.

Although  we arrived 40 minutes before the performance was due to start, we discovered that the car park was filling up, and we had a little difficulty finding a space where we could spread out our picnic rug and see the screen.

The instructions we received mentioned that there would be no food or drink vendors, and that people were welcome to bring their own, and we quickly realised that our 4-pack of beer simply didn't cut it - out immediate neighbours, for instance, had brought poached salmon, chicken, a choice of white or rose wine, and much besides, and (as we later noticed) even after dinner mints.

We had picnic envy, and lacking food, were forced to make conversation with one another while we waited for the play to start.

It was an interesting production; the main action of the play takes place in a very muddy stage / aisle with the audience sitting on either side (and some additional action in the apse of the old church)

I have mixed feelings about the production itself - The Witches seemed rather  over done, even for evil harbingers of doom - they shrieked rather than speaking, and I felt that there were moments when both Macbeth (Kenneth Branagh) and Lady Macbeth (Alex Kingston) seemed rather, well, hammier than was strictly necessary.

There were however also some very high points; Ray Fearon was a convincing and moving Macduff - I shall be looking out for his name in future productions, I'd like to see him in other roles, and despite his occasional over acting, Branagh was also convincingly tormented, a study in increasing paranoia and violent despair.

An interesting production. But I would have preferred a softer carpark to sit on!

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