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Macbett Macbett had its first American production at the acclaimed School of Drama of Yale University Mel Gussow drama critic for The New York Times wrote Ionesco has written a comedy of monarchy Viewed from the perspective of today he sees Macbeth as a grotesue joke How else can you explain mass murder The message is deadly serious and even moralistic Shakespeare and Ionesco are each studying the corruptive effect of ambition but this is first of all a very funny play 'History is full of tricks' says Macbett and so is Ionesco He maliciously undermines his source and its traditions spoofing Shakespeare along with tragedy There is always an extra ghost up Ionesco's sleeve He is a grave robber subverting solemnity and substituting antic wit and dry acerbityFor all his playfulness Ionesco is very much concerned with the nature of revolution As Macbett says regretting his life ' man doesn't rule events Events rule him' Kings rise and are toppled and what do intentions matter As Ionesco sees it all rule is misrule and as for the rabble they are scheming and hypocritical The play levitates with humor but it's heart is pessimistic The dialogue far removed from Shakespeare is collouial and deceptively casual understanding the enormity of the eventsAs for the collaboration between Shakespeare and Ionesco just as Shakespeare had his Holinshed's Chronicles so Ionesco has his Shakespeare Inspired by the myth of Macbeth he has written a comedy with special meaning for today A rewrite of Shakespeare's Macbeth that allows for a complete rediscovery of the original text Great read Read Macbett immediately following Rosencrantz Guildenstern like night and day and a couple of weeks after re reading Macbeth It's so bitter some of the effects are very neat like the large scale repetitions Never saw the play however Also this is a translation so doubly removed from its true identity you might say Eugene Ionesco takes one of Shakespeare's darkest plays and turns it into a tragic farce He incorporates plenty of absurd humor—changing most names by one letter Malcolm becomes Malcol overtly writing Donalbain out of the story having character duos state competing lines with increasing bravado and hyperbole—that is mostly funny if you are familiar enough with Macbeth and have a dorky literary sense of humorThat being said there is still plenty of murder onstage and offstage Several characters get stabbed or beheaded and many of the speeches sound something like this I've killed dozens and dozens of them with my bare hands Twelve dozen officers and men who never did me any harm I've had hundreds and hundreds of others executed by firing suad Thousands of others were roasted alive when I set fire to the forests where they'd run for safety Tens of thousands of men women and children suffocated to death in cellars buried under the rubble of their houses which I'd blown up Hundreds of thousands were drowned in the Channel in desperate attempts to escape Millions died of fear or committed suicide Ten million others died of anger apoplexy or a broken heart There's not enough ground to bury them all Everything is exaggerated as much as it can be and then it's exaggerated some This is all fine and good but I found myself irritated by some of the common absurdist techniues this play clings to Characters often confuse Macbett and his comrade Banco because they are so similar because really everyone is eually ambitious and interchangeable Lines are repeated over and over again for the same reason Early on Macbett gives a long speech contemplating his military service only to have Banco repeat it word for word only a few moments later Whether this was done to once again show how similar the characters are or for a laugh it becomes far too tedious for its own goodWith all the double crossing and overthrowing of leaders I couldn't help but think of some of Percy Shelley's works Both his poem The Masue of Anarchy and his shadow play Prometheus Unbound deal with political revolutions and nonviolent resistance These two works along with Macbett all seem to have in common the idea that anyone who is attempting to overthrow a dictator—for righteous or self serving reasons—will become every bit as bad as that initial dictator They become part of a chain of unbreakable violence And while I might prefer Shelley's works at least Ionesco's characters seem to be having fun during the revolution Really impressed by this oneI was expecting a conventional and easy to digest and appreciate retelling of the Shakespearean classic Maybe something based on the historical events and legacy of the title character Perhaps surrealismInstead this play is a brutal yet elegant dance through the general themes of the Bard's play ambition violence loyalty good evil that also functions as a complex satire on modern life Especially the wars There's a lot of blood in this play as well as a certain macabre humor about it; at one point Lady Duncan actually counts the heads of her husband's slain enemiesDespite the somewhat abstract nature of the writing Ionesco's own ambitions here are shrewdly focused Though tricky and immersed in subterfuge his characters are at once bold symbols for aggression and avarice yet also appear to have their own self contained mythologies An impressive feat as the worlds of satire and human drama do not easily intermingleI also liked that Ionesco's narrower lens streamlined the number of characters in this play no Lady MacBeth here or Lady MacDuff for that matter their roles are embodied by Duncan's wife for some reason Reminds me of another '70s retelling of the MacBeth story the film of Shakespeare's play by Roman Polanski which also reshapes Lady MacBeth's presence a little My suspicion is that the women's movement of the mid century had something to do with these modern approaches to dealing with Lady MacBeth's presence or lack thereof in the scriptsNot what I'd expected but deep and satisfying never the less

  • Paperback
  • 148 pages
  • Macbett
  • Eugène Ionesco
  • English
  • 08 August 2014
  • 9782070366941

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