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KLepKing Lear – Act III scene 3 & 4 – Seeking shelter from the storm, Lear & company encounter Edgar (disguised as Poor Tom), while Gloucester makes a desperate decision.

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act III scene 1 & 2 – Blow winds and crack your cheeks! Lear and his fool find themselves in the middle of nowhere, caught in a storm storm, and without so much as a hat.

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act II scene 4 – It’s a two on one grudge match: Old man Lear verses his thankless daughters!

Featuring: Kate Miller and Kymberly Tuttle.

 

A Review of the Kurzel/Fassbender Macbeth, by John Morales

I just saw the Kurzel/Fassbender Macbeth movie that came out in NYC today and all I can say is…don’t believe the rotten tomato-meter: THIS IS TOTAL GARBAGE! I find it hard to believe that Kurzel, or the screenwriters that ‘adapted’ the play, read anything more than the Sparknotes, and if they did read the original, certainly didn’t understand it, and most definitely did not listen to your incredible analysis. Any dialogue that builds character, complex or simple, or explores the relationship between them, or indeed even provides them with motivation has been cut. Scenes have been run together and juxtaposed to the point that there is no room for the characters and their stories to breathe. The arcs that should be there, and are in the original, have been flattened out, so that the whole thing is basically one note…most definitely not the cure for boring Shakespeare! The actors, who manage to sneak out glimpses of good acting in those precious and few moments, and I truly mean moments, are directed to be basically one dimensional characters such as one might see in a video game and even that is being generous. I wondered if it was worse for the actors being trapped in the movie or for me being trapped in the theater watching the movie! Because so much is cut, when important events happen, they are never earned, or even make sense. Instead, they just seem to be scenes that Kurzel et al. felt obliged to put in because it’s supposed to be Macbeth and these are the scenes that people may know. As you well know and wisely remind your audience, a play, and especially one as tricky as Macbeth, is a series of choices that the director must make, and at every turn Kurzel chooses the wrong decision, most notably the death of Duncan where it is condensed so that Malcolm walks in on Macbeth sitting beside the murdered king, and then there is the banquet scene that is totally quiet so that everyone can hear Macbeth talking to Banquo’s murderer upon his return, especially since he is talking to him right at the table! And then Banquo just hangs out at the table for the rest of the scene. It’s not played as ghostly or a hallucination, just like he’s another guest who is just sitting there stiff like everyone else. Macbeth isn’t possibly going mad from guilt, he’s just a murdering king and everyone knows it. But also, the scene where the Macbeth’s are reunited in the beginning and start to discuss the possibility of assassination is chopped and twisted to the point where it just sounds like two villains who have already wanted the king dead for a long time. If I could paraphrase the scene, “The king is coming…when is he going?…tomorrow…let’s kill him tonight then…Ok, sure.”  Oh, and let us not forget that instead of an army approaching behind trees or even boughs, we just have a raging forest fire with no one fighting but Macduff and Macbeth. There is no subtlety, subtext or finesse anywhere in this version, Kurzel must cut his meat with a double-headed halberd! Instead, scenes are added that make no sense, such as the beginning where they show a dead baby Macbeth on a funeral pyre (which took me out of the movie right away because a good Christian would never cremate the body of their child at this point in history, then they wouldn’t be able to rise on Judgment Day…and from the set and prop design they are clearly big ol’ Christians). He also inserts this young teen boy who seems to intrigue Macbeth in the opening battle scene and reappears throughout the movie, most horrendously carrying the dagger in the ‘Is this a dagger?’ scene. If he is supposed to remind Macbeth of his dead son, it is left completely vague and doesn’t work at all. Trying to figure what the hell he was doing there took me out of every scene in which he appeared. Another thing that made me laugh, because otherwise I would have screamed at the screen, is that they don’t even pay attention to their own edits.  For example, in the ‘out damn spot’ soliloquy there is the line about the knocking at the gate, but there was no knocking at the gate…in fact Glammis is made to look like a Viking frontier post, not a castle, keep or even manor house. Is this supposed to contrive a motivation for Macbeth, ie, I’m tired of living in this hovel so I want to kill the king and live in his house? Just another bad decision.

Ok, now I’m just ranting, I could go on but you get the point. The one thing I can say that I did enjoy in this ‘movie’ is the music and the cinematography. The score is this beautiful minimal score that has the feel of Scottish bagpipes without ever using them or directly referencing anything Scottish.  And this film looks gorgeous. From the wide shots of blasted heaths to the close up shots, the DP knew what he was doing. When there is only music, I could enjoy it somewhat, though I would just say to myself-‘this would make a great Bowie video’, but then they start speaking and I am reminded what an utter failure this is. Also, I noticed that it seemed to be either or for Kurzel…there is music and no dialogue or just dialogue and no music, but usually not both. Kurzel should make music videos and quit the movie biz if this is the kind of thing he is going to do–he achieved a mood, dark and brooding, but did not tell a story or even give us a character study. As for the screenwriters, they deserve to suffer the same fate as the Macduff family in this movie (yet another bad decision made in this movie)…hint: it involves fire, again.

To sum up, I haven’t been this angry at a Shakespeare adaptation since Gibson’s ‘Hamlet.’ And along those lines I will sum up my experience of this ‘Macbeth’ thus: it’s like I went to see Hamlet and instead was shown ‘The Mousetrap”. 

I am writing this so that you may share whatever parts you would like with your listeners.  I would hate to think that someone who may not know the play will see this and think it in any way reflects Macbeth, that such a person would stop here and miss out on the richness and depth of the language and characters Shakespeare created. It’s not just a flawed version, it is a misrepresentation.  Similarly, I also would like to warn those who know the play to avoid this version, or if you must see it, think of it as Macbeth the music video.  Then perhaps you won’t be as completely disheartened as I was.

Now I am going to watch a few scenes of Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood to put some actual Shakespeare back in my brain!

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act II scene 2 & 3 – Kent bumps into a rival-messenger at Gloucester’s house, while Edgar disappears.

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act II scene 1 – Gloucester receives a surprise visit, just as Edmund’s deceptions pay off, and whispered rumors hint of war.

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act I scene 5 – Stuck waiting to leave, not even the fool’s jokes can keep doubt and fear from creeping into Lear’s thoughts.

Featuring: G.Robin Smith

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act I scenes 3 & 4 – Goneril takes steps to remedy the burden of her father. A disguised Kent returns, and Lear’s fool finally makes an appearance.

Featuring: Kate Miller

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act I scene 2 – Edmund exposes his true nature, and eclipses his father Gloucester’s trust in absent son Edgar, who eventually  shows up

 
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KLepKing Lear – Act I scene 1 – The King has decided to retire and demands to know which of his daughters loves him the most,  as he breaks apart the kingdom. It does not go well.

Featuring: Rebecca Gross

 
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