Which actor doesn’t want to play Lady Macbeth? I jumped at the chance of the role in the Melbourne Company of Players production, of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, opening in June.
Before Game of Thrones there was the Scottish play, set in the cold north, where winter is permanently entrenched. It is relentless action, and a new thrill a minute. It’s got witches, bloody battles, murder, political intrigues, moving woods and violent death.
Although some of the action is off-stage, Shakespeare’s language – English at its most potent – brings it all vividly to life for us. And the words stick. Lines and phrases like “Double, double, toil and trouble”, “Is this a dagger I see before me?” “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” and “Lay on, Macduff” are known even to those without a penchant for theatre. Lady Macbeth’s lines don’t fall short – I’m looking forward to workshopping those enthralling words, “Out, damned spot!” with director, Matthew O’Sullivan.
In an era when women are still often relegated to supporting roles, it’s compelling to watch the strong and clever Lady Macbeth get to dominate her erratic lord. She is ruthless, manipulative, yet ultimately human and vulnerable. She is a dramatic Shakespearean package, wholly fleshed out.
It’s exciting imaginatively unravelling the threads that make her what she is. At a time when women had few opportunities to wield power, did she readily marry the upwardly mobile Macbeth? Did she grow to love him? Did she lose babies? Did her children succumb to disease? And how does she commit suicide? I favour her jumping off the castle battlements. I imagine a woman of her steely resolve would always make a dramatic exit.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. What better way to celebrate than with a play shot through with slaughter?
Macbeth runs from June 7th to June 2th at the Metaonia Theatre, Brunswick. Book tickets online at: www.themelbournecompanyofplayers.com.au
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View the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts_CznZSL5A