Mac Bethad Macfindlaich - Thane of Maple Ridge & JasperFriday, December 06, 2019
|Brent Hirose - 5 December 2019|
I was attracted to the The Tragic Comedy of Macbeth by Mac Bethad Macfindlaich (and William Shakespeare) at the Jericho Arts Centre last night for two reasons – the dual directors. One is Bernard Cuffling the other is Gary C. Jones.
The former is my favourite angel, whose lovely booming voice and accent reflect his Shakespearean background. The latter, Gary C. Jones, has been a writer for CBC’s most intelligent (my opinion) radio program – The Debaters. The Debaters can get away with doing stuff that other radio programs cannot touch as the intelligent content is hidden by humour.
No matter how the Thane of Glamis and then Of Cawder somehow last night became (this will vary as the play depends on the audience to define as to his origins) the Thane of Maple Ridge (via the Dewdney Trunk Road) and the Thane of Jasper, with acquaintances in Vesuvius Harbour, nothing is really different from Shakespeare’s play. Cuffling has done his homework. Jones brings the idea of improvisation in his talent as a stand-up comedy actor.
|Brent Hirose with Bernard Cuffling|
The most able Brent Hirose, as Macbeth, attempts to escape the losing of his head that he tells us has occurred in a huge number of performances of the play throughout the world in many languages. We the audience throw variations to force him to improvise on the spot on his destiny. But in the end destiny destroys whatever idea we as humans may have about free will.
In my many ventures into performances of Shakespeare’s plays I never go to any of them without consulting my Shakespeare- the Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom. A copy much like mine, but more ragged is always on Christopher Gaze’s bed table. Last night’s play turned that all around. It was the first book I turned to when I went home.
Of Macbeth’s inability to change his fate Bloom writes:
Of all of Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists, Macbeth is the least free…Whether or not Nietzsche (and Freud after him) were right in believing that we are lived, thought, and willed by forces not ourselves, Shakespeare anticipated Nietzsche in this conviction.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (in last night’s play) kiss under a street lamp after attending a drum circle. Perhaps in other days they will do this under mistletoe after drinking eggnog. Surely this was all invention! Not so (the kiss is real) as it is usually up to individual directors of Macbeth to keep or eliminate the scene of the kiss. Again Cuffling is strongly backing the Bard.
This play can be enjoyed in three ways. The purist Shakespeare enthusiast will see through Jones’s variations and distractions. Those keen on finding something to laugh about in our city’s inclement weather and Christmas shopping rush will indeed be entertained and will float at the end of the performance with help from the excellent Malbec to be had at the theatre’s bar.
Or you can enjoy, combining both substance and laughter, the conflict of a protagonist who no matter how he tries to change his fate, fate does him in.
Such was the obvious inability of Macbeth to escape fate in a language I could understand, that I was in deep thought as I drove home. This modified play is not just for laughs. There is plenty of substance in Shakespeare’s Macbeth that reminds me of Greek tragedies where we know the eventual ending but still find catharsis through the proceedings that lead to that inevitability.
CS Fergusson –Vaux did splendid costume design in particular with All Froggatt’s (Lady Macbeth – others) lovely satin dress. Tracy Bartley, the wig wrangler was kept busy all night placing varied stuff on David C. Jones’s head. The two Aidans (one Parker, the other Wright, both playing Mcduff) were ably placed into character by the backstage fast dresser. The witches (Brigitte May being Hecate and others who might have been he/hims) toiled without trouble and never fell in the unnamed stage designer’s set. Chengyan Boon lit the play to my satisfaction.
After consulting my Harold Bloom I re-read some of my favourite Argentine (I am Argentine) Jorge Luís Borges’s essays on his favourite Shakespeare play – Macbeth:
Suele olvidarse que Macbeth, ahora un sueño del arte, fue alguna vez un hombre en el tiempo.
It is often forgotten that Macbeth, now a dream of the arts, was at one time a man of time.
Jorge Luís Borges
And I also consulted with that other Argentine, Julio Cortázar with whom Brent Hirose’s Macbeth would have certainly had some partial disagreements:
Creo que las cosas imposibles se pueden conseguir, que los besos con los ojos cerrados son los únicos que cuentan, que las heridas no siempre cierran, y que todo el mundo se enamora alguna vez.
Creo en el destino, y creo que nosotros mismos lo elegimos.
I believe that impossible things can be obtained, that closed eye kisses are the only ones that count, that wounds do not always close, and that the whole world falls in love at least once.
I believe in destiny, and that we ourselves choose it.
My companion Curtis Daily, a baroque bassist from Portland who is here to play for Early Music Vancouver Christmas concerts, was blown away by Hirose’s ability to quickly improvise as we the audience threw stuff at him. Perhaps David C .Jones and company might travel to Portland and give Portlanders a taste for our Vancouver stellar improvised comedy routines.
We were saddened to observe that Jones (King Duncan) is now addicted to Facebook.
The play is on, at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery St. Wednesday through Saturday to December 15 at 7:30 and at 2: PM on Sundays.