lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
Because we were travelling yesterday and I did not have time.

Day #16: Your first play you saw - Macbeth

I'm not counting film versions, so the first Shakespeare play I ever saw was in March of 1998 when I visited London for the first time. My father and I had just arrived on the red-eye that morning and happened to be wandering round Shaftesbury Avenue when we saw a billboard for a production of Macbeth at the Queen's Theatre. And that, as they say, was that.

Rufus Sewell (who I had, and still have, quite a thing for) was playing Macbeth, with Sally Dexter as Lady Macbeth. To be honest, there are large chunks of the production that I do not remember, but I recall the banquet scene being brilliant, along with pretty much any scene where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth shared the stage -- their chemistry was positively sizzling, which is odd, considering Lady M. spends most of her time telling her husband off for being unmanly.

Rather to my shame, I did end up falling asleep during the scene where Macduff and Malcolm talk about nothing while watching grass grow, but I have no idea if there is any way to make that scene interesting without cutting about half of it. Also, I can partly blame jetlag since it was our first day in London.

Day #17: Your favourite speech - Romeo and Juliet and 3 Henry VI

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene II )

First of all, this speech is possibly one of the sexiest in Shakespeare, at least as far as I'm concerned. The imagery is just glorious, and I love all the different facets we see of Juliet here -- how incredibly alive she is and glorying in the prospect of everything she has waiting for her -- and, of course, the horrible irony of the fight the audience has just witnessed that is about to completely shatter her world and her expectations.

And now for something completely different...3 Henry VI, Act V, Scene VI )

I came very close to picking the monologue from Act III, Scene II, but I'd already talked about that on Day 3 when I discussed Richard in detail. This soliloquy is in some ways an extension of that, but there is an incredible, corrosive bitterness here that's muted in the earlier speech, or at least channelled into that almost playful anticipation with which Richard plots his coup d'état. Here, he's standing over the bloody corpse of Henry VI (the same corpse that will bleed in his presence in Richard III), having taken the first two steps toward the crown.

It is also entirely possible that my love for this speech comes from Jonathan Slinger's performance in the RSC Histories Cycle. Here's what I said about it after seeing it for the first time:

Henry's death scene was utterly riveting. So many links to Richard II's death, down to the circle of blood when he was dragged offstage. But Richard's monologue after the murder -- wow. Just wow. His bitterness, how trapped he seems to be, it comes out so strongly here, even more so than in the long speech in 3.2. His face and form have become who he is but not by choice. Everyone assumes he is evil because he is deformed. I actually felt genuinely sorry for him, in spite of Henry's body lying there in front of him. There was so much self-loathing in that speech. And then he dragged Henry -- poor, helpless Henry -- offstage, and everyone suddenly remembered he's sort of a homicidal maniac.

What's also worth noting is that Richard is the only person in the entire trilogy who never gets the benefit of the doubt from Henry VI. Everybody else -- York, Suffolk, Margaret, Edward, even Beaufort -- at least gets some moment in which Henry tries to understand them or sympathise with them. Richard never gets that. And, granted, perhaps that is because this is the only scene where they're together for any length of time, and Richard has just killed Henry's son, but Henry is just so mean to him it's almost astonishing. Especially since it's Henry -- sweet, unassuming, adorable, faily Henry.

...wow, that went on longer than I'd expected.

Full List of Questions )

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lareinenoire

October 2010

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