Macbeth Audio CD
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MACBETH, Shakespeare's last great tragedy, has remained one of the most popular plays since its first performance in 1606 - probably in front of King James. This exciting audiobook production is directed with fresh imagination by Fiona Shaw who breaks the conventional strait jacket that has hampered the development of Shakespeare on audio. We are as much in the 21st century as in medieval Scotland - the tensions, the politics, the struggle for power and dark ambition is part of our lives. This is also reflected in the sound world, with modern machinery and tanks. MACBETH is part of Naxos AudioBooks' exciting series of complete dramatisations of the works of Shakespeare, in conjunction with Cambridge University Press. It uses the New Cambridge Shakespeare text, as used by the Royal Shakespeare Company and educational institutions across the world.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Macbeth is played by Stephen Dillane. It's an interesting interpretation. He starts out soft-spoken and pensive. After Duncan's murder, Macbeth often sounds as emotionless as an automaton, as though he has lost control of the evil potential within him that has been unleashed.
Fiona Shaw plays Lady Macbeth and is also credited as the director of the performance.
Fiona Shaw's Lady Macbeth is very interesting and worth hearing. There may be a little over-acting here, as each lines she delivers commands attention. Her Lady Macbeth sounds quite manic already at her first entrance. She comes off as emotionally unstable from the very beginning. There is nothing surprising about the suicidal madness that eventually overtakes her. The entire Tragedy could probably have been prevented with a little lithium according to this interpretation. The text allows for it, and it's worth considering.
On the other hand, here's why I deducted a star:
- The spoken line is sometimes delivered so dramatically, and with such distinct mid-line inserted pauses, that the poetic meter is lost and poetry is converted into prose.
- The performance is full of sound effects and music. They are usually quite effective, but the mood is often determined as much by them as by Shakespeare's text. Whether this is a net plus or minus is a matter of taste. Occasionally the sound effects are perplexing, and I found myself analyzing the director's thoughts rather than Shakespeares's. The music is usually either a kettle drum or a lugubrious cello, often quite loud. I don't object to music between the scenes, but the spoken line must often contend with musical accompaniment. My favorite speech in the play, "Tomorrow and tomorrow ... life ... is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing", is recited over an equally-loud lugubrious cello.
- The three "Weird Sisters" are given a little inserted text that Shakespeare never wrote. We hear their faint cackle once when they are not onstage, and they are given the final line in the play, a reprise of "When shall we three meet again ..."
This is a memorable, insightful performance of Macbeth that anyone who loves the play should hear.