If you were a tree, what would you be? Sounds like the kind of pop psychology question you’d get asked by HR at a nameless, faceless company.
What about this one: If you had to name your favorite Shakespeare play, what would it be? Same judgment, different format. (what if you couldn’t name one? or worse, what if you hated all Shakespeare?)
My answer? MacBeth.
Blinding ambition. Friendship. Betrayal. Loneliness.
I’ve always liked MacBeth, even as a teenager. Identified with him – never her. Why was it so intriguing?
I was so excited the first time I saw MacBeth. A traditional interpretation. Black and red fascist flags. Jack boots. MacBeth, manic and consumed. A raging tornado of energy. Lady MacBeth a pale zephyr beside him. A wispy shadow.
The second time I saw the play, Lady MacBeth was the December in a May-December romance. It knocked me back. She was the force behind a younger man’s ambition. She drove the action on stage. She drove him. Channeled her will through him.
When I saw MacBeth a third time, I eagerly sought out the relationship between them. What was the dynamic? Just whose ambitions were MacBeth achieving?
They were two youngsters, equally drunk on power, conquering the world together, giggling like teenagers, blissfully unaware of the consequences of their actions. Appealing in a way. Two people united by their narcissism and disregard for the world. Quite appealing actually.
It had been a few years … I wasn’t sure what I would see when I went to MacBeth last year. MacBeth the raging storm, Lady MacBeth the calculating widow, the Cruel Intentions MacBeths together slaking their ambition. Hadn’t I run the gamut of permutations?
MacBeth did not disappoint.
Patrick Stewart eating leftovers in the kitchen with his consigliere as they rehashed his day at work. Schemed about his day, their future. The one they built together. One soul, one ambition. Two people.
It’s still my favorite Shakespeare play.