Review: Macbeth and the Bard’s Hellward Braid

“In Macbeth, there are no subplots. It’s ironic that one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays is absent The Bard’s hallmark illicit trysts and bumbling, disaster-prone duos, but it makes up for it with one of the most lurid explorations of evil, perhaps anywhere.

“Charlie Fee, who directs the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s production of Macbeth in addition to serving as the company’s producing artistic director, has this on lockdown. So does his Lady Macbeth, played by Erin Partin, who, at the June 5 performance, was a pitch-perfect moral foil to the rather tepid better angels of her husband, played by Lynn Robert Berg.

“Macbeth, for the uninitiated, is the story of how its titular character saves Scotland from invaders, succumbs to avarice with the encouragement of his wife and becomes a murderous, paranoid tyrant. In its first half, the Macbeths talk themselves into committing regicide so Macbeth can become king. In the second, the couple starts to crack under the psychological and political consequences of their actions, fighting to hang on to power—literally for dear life.

“Like Dante’s Inferno, the play hinges on inversions. Power is vulnerability and wickedness is a virtue. The best arguments favor active villainy and pummel passive righteousness. Macbeth the king, a father to his country, kills its sons out of wild-eyed paranoia; and his wife, well, this line says it all: “Come, you spirits that assist murderous thoughts … to my female breast and turn my mother’s milk into poisonous acid.” Partin throws herself into her role as Macbeth’s provocateur, intertwining with him in a hellward braid, and wherever she is on the stage is where audiences can look for the fire.” […]    –Harrison Berry, Boise Weekly, June 13, 2018

Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda Collection, Fall 2015

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“A movie-night selection made by Dolce’s boyfriend, a gracious Brazilian advertising executive named Guilherme Siqueira, had provided the inspiration for this season’s Alta Moda collection: the 1999 version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Michael Hoffman and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, which was filmed in Italy. Dolce explained, ‘When you see this movie, you go, “This is like a dream in Portofino.”‘

“He and Gabbana had been struck by the film’s vision of an Italian countryside populated with characters drawn from ancient Greek myth: Theseus, the mythological founder of Athens, and his betrothed, Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen. The forthcoming fashion show, Dolce said, was an attempt to imagine the result of a triple collaboration: ‘Homer, the visionary; Dante, the poet of Purgatory and Paradise, with Beatrice, la bellezza; and Shakespeare, with the crazy humor.'” — Rebecca Mead, “The Couture Club,” The New Yorker

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Caesar Must Die (2013)

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“The Tavianis are now in their 80s, but at an age when most of their contemporaries have retired they continue making films, and in seamless unity. Their latest effort, Caesar Must Die, which opens on Wednesday, is one of their most artistically ambitious productions: a fictional feature with elements of a documentary and the theater, about the staging of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in a maximum-security prison in Rome.” […]

Caesar Must Die was born when a journalist friend of the Tavianis urged them to visit a performance by the Rebibbia troupe. They were reluctant at first. ‘We thought, oh, it’s going to be the same old thing,’ Paolo said. But once they saw the prisoners performing Dante and Pirandello, they changed their minds.”    –Larry Rohter, The New York Times, February 1, 2013

Vladimir Kobekin, “Hamlet of the Danes, Russian Comedy” (2009)

hamlet-of-the-danes-russian-comedy“…Mr. Kobekin’s Hamlet of the Danes, Russian Comedy, is hardly a comedy, except perhaps — as the composer observed — as the word was used by the likes of Dante. Nor, apart from language, is it notably Russian. It is a brash re-telling of Shakespeare’s play in contemporary words” [. . .]    –George Loomis, “Moscow’s Second Stage Revels in the Homegrown,” The New York Times, November 17, 2009