Macbeth is my favorite play. My favorite book. My favorite collection of English words. The poetic beauty of the text, the directness of the plot, the representations of madness, supernatural, and reality, and the shear magnitude of the tragedy are what makes it so fantastic. But although, for all of these reasons, it is one of the easiest of Shakespeare’s plays to read, by the same token it is one of the most difficult to play. The sheer beauty of the spoken words, many of which are directed to nobody, makes it particularly challenging for actors to value-add through their interaction with each other. Thus it is a rare stage performance which does the masterpiece justice. Luckily for me, the Canberra Repertory Theatre here in town has just put on a great production of the Scottish Play.
Macbeth’s hands, he comes into his own, playing off a terrifying Lady Macbeth and a wavering Banquo in the maddening spiral that ends with Banquo’s Banquet. That astoundingly potent scene is followed by the intermission, presumably so that the audience can steady their nerves with a glass or two before coming back for Hecate and her hands.