Sorry just one more SNM thing.
It struck me last night, and never really hit me before – the moments Macbeth and Lady Macbeth see the audience. I’ve followed Lady Macbeth a few times recently (Tori Sparks twice right before she left, and Omagbitse Omagbemi Friday night) and then three-looped Macbeth last night, so the parallels between them were fresh in my mind.
For the first half of their loop, the Macbeths are completely oblivious to the audience. They don’t see or interact with us at all.
It starts when Macbeth kills Duncan. As he runs back to the Macbeth bedroom with the blood on his hands, he stops under a light and turns around and the audience sees the blood on his hands. But he’s not doing this just to show his hands to the audience. He looks at us. For the first time, he sees us. Like we are these lurking supernatural creatures, visible to him now because of the horror he’s committed.
Then after Lady Macbeth bathes him, they both huddle on the bed, and for a moment they both seem to see us. They look at us with a kind of vague horror, like they can suddenly see the wisps of us appearing out of the ether around them.
It’s like by committing the murder, they are corrupted, evil, and now they can see us. We are ghosts, spirits, supernatural creatures. The sane characters can’t see us – the only other characters who see us are the supernatural ones (the witches, Hecate, and Hecate’s thrall the Speakeasy Barman).
I think it’s also a sign of their increasing insanity.
Macbeth runs upstairs to the rave, stops at the top of the fourth floor to put his socks and shoes on, stands up, and then has this moment where he looks at the audience. He can see us clearly, and is suspicious and horrified and kind of ecstatically crazed by our appearance. He sees us during the rave, too – we’re in a circle around the witches and Macbeth doing their prophecy/orgy, like we are these ethereal ghosts coming out of the same spaces from which the witches themselves emerge.
Meanwhile Lady Macbeth stays on the bed and does this writhing dance trying to get the blood off her hands, and she too can see us. When she walks up to the fourth floor to greet Macbeth after he finishes the rave and kills Banquo, she is now grabbing the audience members, clutching them, whispering lines from the play to them. She also sees us during her final walk up to the fifth floor insane asylum – the nurse strips her and puts her in the bath, and then she climbs out, naked and alone, and reaches out to us in a kind of insane broken daze.
It’s so freaking cool how this show is structured.
And it’s so ridiculous to read those reviews from people saying “This had nothing to do with Macbeth” or “This made no sense.” Nonsense. It’s transformative – it turns “Macbeth” inside out and interprets it through a very different medium, but it is so deeply engaged with the text.
Originally published at rusty-halo.com. You can comment here or there.