Every British child studies Shakespeare at school. Whether it’s one of his plays, or a whole bunch, nearly all of us in the UK have a passing knowledge of at least one Shakespeare play. I vividly remember studying Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at school, but the one I enjoyed the most was Macbeth.
Macbeth, a Scottish general, learns from three witches that he will become King of Scotland. Egged on by his wife and consumed by ambition, he murders the king and takes the throne for himself. His guilt and paranoia then send him and his wife on a downward spiral into madness. I mean, how juicy does that sound!
Unfortunately at the time I was studying the play, we never got to see a live performance, but 18 years later I was able to take full advantage of The Globe’s live streaming schedule, and watch Macbeth from the best seat in town.
The play had been recorded during the day, meaning that you can actually see the audience – something not normally possible in any other live-streamed performances I’ve seen. I’ve enjoyed these performances, but it often feels a little like watching a film – a very individual experience. Seeing and hearing the audience’s reactions (somewhat helped by the large group of school children who were extra surprised at the play’s twists and turns) made it feel a little more communal, knowing we were all sharing similar emotions at the same time.
The performance itself was really watchable, even if it did lose me a little during the slower, more political parts. It moves at quite a quick pace though, so this wasn’t too much of an issue. I wasn’t so convinced about the strange dance at the end: something I definitely didn’t expect to see. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon, and I’m glad I can now say that I’ve seen Macbeth, even it was from afar.