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A stunning 'Macbeth' on PBS

Posted by Don Aucoin  November 4, 2010 09:44 AM

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     If you missed Channel 2's recent broadcast of "Macbeth,'' starring Patrick Stewart as the title character and Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth, you really owe it to yourself to check it out on the PBS website, where it can be seen in its entirety.
     Part of PBS's "Great Performances'' series, this "Macbeth'' is a film adaptation by Rupert Goold of the stage version (also directed by Goold) that played on Broadway a couple of years ago.
     I've seen the adaptation twice so far, and it's a stunner. Stewart and Fleetwood create harrowing portraits of the bloody-minded Scottish duo while also managing to make Shakespeare's language sound natural within an ashy, bleak, 1940s-era atmosphere that evokes World War II and the Cold War alike. This "Macbeth'' ranks with such great Shakespeare adaptations as Peter Brook's 1971 version of "King Lear,'' starring Paul Scofield and Irene Worth, and Kenneth Branagh's 1996 "Hamlet.''

     For Bostonians who may have seen "Sleep No More,'' the nearly-wordless adaptation of "Macbeth'' by the British theater company Punchdrunk that was presented  last year by the American Repertory Theater, Stewart's "Macbeth'' is a reminder that this play works pretty well with the words, too.


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