Great Performances "Macbeth" on WXXI-TV

Great Performances "Macbeth" on WXXI-TV

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 9:00pm

Pictured: Sir Patrick Stewart as Macbeth and Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth share a tense embrace during the performance.

Credit: Courtesy of Manuel Harlan/Illuminations TV - WNET.ORG

Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood bring this Shakespeare classic to new life.

The production, though retaining the Goold’s exciting concept of relocating the bloody action to a nameless 20th-century militaristic society, has been rethought in vivid filmic terms. The movie, marking Goold’s cinematic debut, will be presented on PBS as part of the Great Performances series Wednesday, October 6, at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 11/cable 1011).

Originating at England’s innovative Chichester Festival Theatre, the play – the Bard’s shortest tragedy -- is taken out of its Scottish context to offer an allegory of war and the quest for power in the modern world.  Writing for the Hollywood Reporter after its London opening, Ray Bennett enthused, “Seldom can Shakespeare's murky Scottish tragedy ‘Macbeth’ have been staged with so much clarity and emotional punch as in Rupert Goold's exhilarating production.”

When the production opened stateside at BAM, Ben Brantley of The New York Times praised Stewart’s “fearsome insight and theatrical fire.”

Elysa Gardner in USA Todayobserved Stewart’s “witty, nuanced work, which reveals Macbeth as an intelligent, rational person driven to madness by outside forces and his own violent transgressions. There is something of Lear — and Hamlet, too — in this portrait of a thoughtful, corruptible man.”

This is not your grandfather’s “Macbeth.” Shot in High-Definition at Welbeck Abbey in the U.K., Goold maintains the atmosphere and tone of the stage version, heightening the Shakespearean classic with an edgy style reminiscent of Illuminations’ recent film adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet, which was also broadcast on PBS in April 2010 by THIRTEEN’s Great Performances.

Among the actors recreating their roles for the film are Michael Feast (Macduff); Martin Turner (Banquo); Scott Handy (Malcolm); Paul Shelley (Duncan); Suzanne Burden (Lady Macduff); and Christopher Patrick Nolan (The Porter).

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