The students loved seeing Shakespeare come to life! They were surprised to see the modern interpretation but were very impressed. I loved watching them delight in such a classic piece of literature!
Macbeth was mind blowing. I’m honestly somewhat sad that Macbeth is my first play I have seen because my expectations are now through the roof for any play I see. The whole experience was incredible and once in a lifetime. Going into the play I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had never stepped foot into a Broadway theater before. On the way to the theater, we were discussing this superstition about not saying “Macbeth” in a theater, because it’s bad luck, and bad things start happening. I find this very interesting and the roots of this are understandable considering that when scheduling the first ever performance of Macbeth, the actor who was supposed to portray Lady Macbeth, mysteriously passed away and had to be replaced.
Regardless of that, when the play started, Michael P. Thornton came on stage who talked a little bit about the play before it started and addressed the concern. He just told us to whisper “Macbeth” three times and not to worry. The moment the play began, you can definitely see the amazing production quality. Everything stands out to you. The lighting effects, the sound design, and the set design were amazing. The people behind who helped with everything had a field day and they used everything at their disposal to create such a dramatic atmosphere.
When you read Macbeth, or any play in general, it may feel very one dimensional, but when you see the play actually acted out on stage, all those words that are used to describe the setting come to life. Using the lights to lower the brightness to create fear. The lights when used in unison with the sounds can create this world we see on stage. A great example of this is when Macbeth killed King Duncan. The music used was extremely suspenseful and felt very similar to the Jaws theme. You can feel your heart rushing and right when he starts stabbing him, music is intensified to the max. Another amazing display of effects is when Macbeth was in the forest and there was a bright flash of light, and a lightning sound effect was used, which scared everyone in the theater. They even used a projector very shortly to flash images of trees, since they didn’t put up actual props of trees.
I think the most exciting part of the play, however, is the actors. Daniel Craig, Ruth Negga, Grantham Coleman, Asia Kate Dillion and the rest of the cast is truly what this play is about. Their depiction of the characters is so amazing to watch. Everyone was so in character and you forget that these are actors; it seemed like a movie. Unlike a movie, however, there aren’t multiple takes for your parts. In this play, you cannot mess up, and it’s very apparent that they are dedicated to their roles. I liked the three witches a lot as well. The three witches weren’t all girls which is pretty cool to see. And the witches seemed so mysterious but I loved seeing their dynamic.
Let’s talk about the star of the show: Daniel Craig. James Bond himself plays an amazing Macbeth. Seeing how he obtains the crown which leads to his deterioration and downfall at the end was spectacular. The way he and Lady Macbeth interacted with each other was so amazing, and you can see how they both are corrupting and how their violent ambition is so perfectly captured in their characters. You can see how evil they are and how Lady Macbeth pushes Macbeth to kill for both of their successes. At the final fight with Macduff you can definitely see how far Macbeth fell. The final fight was my favorite part of the play honestly. When Macbeth was giving his soliloquy, the lights went completely dark around him and Macbeth was lit up red. That part gave me so much goosebumps. When Macduff came on stage, the backstage moved towards the edge which made it so much more intense. One detail I thought was interesting was that when they put on their “armor,” they actually just put on a military vest. They were fighting and they used blood packs which would pop when they hit each other. The fight seemed so real and brutal. When Macbeth was killed, he was sitting on the ground and Macduff gave a speech and sat next to him, and his daughter came out as well and started singing and it was beautiful.
Every part of this play is dramatic, intense, spectacular, and everything that a Broadway play is supposed to be. I loved this play and would recommend it to everyone who can watch it. I feel very lucky to have been able to watch this play for free and am very grateful for the people who set it up. Being in AP Lit, it gave me a special appreciation for the play and how it was set up. Macbeth is my favorite Shakespeare play and seeing it in person at a theater made me extremely happy and appreciative of the work that goes in, and Shakespeare in general. He was ahead of his time and revolutionized how plays are made and the stories and tropes that are popular today. And seeing a modern production on this centuries old play shows how far we have come and how strong this story holds up today.
Macbeth on Broadway was an experience that blew away all of my expectations, even with Macbeth being my favorite Shakespearean play. For those of you who don’t know the story, Macbeth is prophesied by witches to become the Thane of Cawdor and then the King after his help in winning the battle for his country. Macbeth doesn’t believe what he is told until the first part comes true, and he becomes the Thane of Cawdor. This leads him and his wife to plot, and ultimately succeed in killing the current king.
Instead of feeling satisfied or even content with his position, Macbeth becomes paranoid. Fearing that the other prophecy told by the witches will become true, Macbeth sets out to kill all in his way. Even after getting rid of any current threats, Macbeth still fears being dethroned as King, so he returns to the witches. There he is told three things: to fear Macduff, that he cannot die of woman born, and he’ll die when the Birnam forest moves to Dunsinane. Now believing that every man is of women born and that the Birnam forest moving to Dunsinane is impossible, Macbeth feels invincible. However, it comes crashing down when he is told that it appears the forest is moving. Sending him into a full panic, Macbeth kills until he encounters Macduff. Now, having no problem in battle before, Macbeth figures this would be easy. When it isn’t easy, Macbeth is still confident as he still can’t die from a man born of woman. This is when it’s revealed that Macduff was ripped before he could naturally be born, thus not being of woman born. Having no options left, Macbeth fights but is ultimately killed by Macduff.
Before the Broadway production begins, we are greeted by Michael Patrick Thornton who plays Lennox. His job at the beginning is to relax the crowd before the play begins, and he does an amazing job. There is a rumor that saying the name of the play in the theater is bad luck, so he utilizes this to engage with the audience and introduce us to what the play is about. He even tells the cast to mouth Macbeth on a count of three, which in hindsight is ridiculous because the audience was required to wear masks at all times, but that didn’t stop me from mouthing it. Michael Patrick Thornton leaning back in his wheelchair shocked before saying “What’s wrong with you?” is the funniest thing that I’ve ever experienced during a play. With that, the play begins.
In my opinion, the cast diversity added something to the play that can’t be explained. Broadway’s Macbeth had a cast of different ethnicity such as Daniel Craig from England and six of the thirteen cast members being of African descent, including Ruth Negga who co-stars alongside Craig. The cast also includes a paraplegic in Michael Patrick Thornton, someone who is pansexual and identifies as non-binary in Asia Kate Dillon, and a variety of ages with Paul Lazar being the oldest at 72. This gives most characters a unique face and voice, which is definitely a plus for this play.
The two best actors in this play are Daniel Craig who plays Macbeth and Ruth Negga who plays Lady Macbeth. Daniel Craig does a fantastic job at portraying Macbeth’s struggling with his morals at the beginning of the play and then throwing it away and becoming fixated on power, while Ruth Negga portrays Lady Macbeth as someone who lusts for power and is disgusted by her husband’s battle with his morals, pushing him to do morally wrong things for power. The actors almost switch personalities, with Macbeth feeling remorseful at the beginning and lusting for power at the end, while Lady Macbeth lusts for power at the beginning, but is haunted by the actions by the end. This portrays the theme of morality extremely well, and that power can rob people of their humanity.
Overall, I loved going to Broadway to watch Macbeth and it was a wonderful experience. I would definitely recommend watching this play while you have the chance. While there is an issue of not understanding the characters on stage at times as some actors play multiple characters with the clothes being no indication of a character change, the positives far outweigh that small critique. The comedy, the acting, the lighting, and the imagery make any watching of Macbeth on Broadway a night to remember.