Dane vs thane

Andrew Burnet supplies the

essentials on two tragic anti—heroes.


Occupation: Prince of Denmark; student. Too much time on his hands.

Known associates: Horatio (fellow student; good egg); Yorrick (late lamented court jester); ()phelia (don't ask); Roscncrantz and (iuildenstern (forget Stoppard: they're schmucks).

Hobbies: Receiving visitations from the afterlife; fencing; telling actors how to act; pretending to be bonkers; planning regicide.

Planning? Not much of a duet, then? More a procrastinator. really. The play‘s been described as ‘the tragedy of a man who couldn’t make up his mind'. But of course it‘s not as sitnple as that.

Ho? 0ch. heavens no! Best evidence there is of Shakespeare being a Freudian before his time. All that ()edipal stuff with the mother. for example . . .

Well, let’s not go into that. Why should we want to know about this guy anyway? The Royal Lyceum’s repertory season culminates in a production, starring Torn McGovern.

, Hot Danish then? Glaswegian. Well spoken though.

dedicated and fearless. but he's not got a very good sense of intuition about the right thing to do.‘

What about costumes? Kilts and woad? Saffron robes. actually.

What's that all about then? l think we forget that

. And What’s he 9‘" m say about the ""9? ‘lnhabiiillg ; heaven and hell. the sense of retribution for what you

that world. it creeps into your everyday life and psyche. l‘ve had bad dreams for the past few months, beause l've been constantly thinking about it, and surprising myselfat reaching such emotional levels. l‘m not saying I'm going mad. but there is a kind of madness attached to it.‘

Are the audience in for any surprises? ‘1 think what pe0ple might find surprising is how accessible it is. David Mamet cut the text for us. and his version‘s got a really strong thrust. It just seems to roll forward constantly to the end.‘

A bit tiring then? ‘Exhausting.’


Occupation: Thane of Glamis and (‘awdor; general in King Duncan‘s army.

Known associates: Lady Macbeth (wife); three dodgy old biddies (career advisors); Banquo (friend and colleague).

Hobbies: Winning battles; planning regicide.

Another procrastinator? ()nce Her indoors has talked him through a few scruples there’s no stopping him.

Not someone to get on the wrong side of, then? Bit of a tendency to bump off close colleagues.

What, not Banquo too? He does feel guilty aftem'ards‘.

Sounds nasty. What about him? Pheobus Cart theatre company's touring with a production directed by and starring Mark Rylance.

Hot sure I’ve heard of him . . . Well you should've. Been a leading actor for years. Professional debut at the Citz. I980; RSC. 1982—4. Played Hamlet for the RSC in I988. Starred in Gillies Mackinnon‘s l99l feature film The Grass Arena. Now artistic director of London’s Globe Theatre.

And what’s he got to say about Macbeth? ‘I think he tries to follow the right path; and I‘m sure he would have been a good king if he‘d just been patient. He’s


did on earth these were fundamentally believed; they weren't theories. i needed the audience to see that Duncan is a divine king; and l think that today only gurus ~ such as Hare Krishna leaders ~ inspire this same kind of faith. Anti when they die, there can be violent consequences . . .

I see. Anything else we should know? Well. Lady M's played by Jane llorrocks . . .

How absolutely fabulous! And? Well. there's been a bit of a scandal because she pees during the sleepwalking scene.

What, live onstage? So we‘re told. Complaints have been —- er -- flooding in from the usual quarters.

So what’s Rylance got to say about that? ‘When people are losing their mind. it's very likely that they lose control of themselves in that way. It adds enormously to the pity of her. And curiously. urination is mentioned in other parts of the text. such as the Porter's speech. People ask me if l'm trying to shock, and I can't believe it a in a play where there are so many murders and horrific ideas.’

Look here, where can I see these plays?

Hamlet. Royal Lyceum. Edinburgh. Fri /0 November—Sat 2 December; Mac/wilt. Theatre Royal. (ilasgmr; Mon /3 -Su! 18 NUi't‘lilbt’ti

l Isle of the


' Icy blast: The Tempest

Admissions of inadequacy are not what we’re accustomed to hearing from celebrated theatre directors, but in the case of Silviu Purcarete it sounds like the humility of one artist in the presence of another. ‘You cannot create a perfect Tempest,’ says the Romanian dramaturg, ‘but it will never be a total failure.’

Perhaps the most elusive and allusive work in the canon, The Tempest rolls through Glasgow this month on Nottingham Playhouse and Theatr Clwyd’s world tour. This production bears the firm stamp of the director’s vision. Purcarete sees the Bard’s swansong as an allegory on the artist's struggle to accommodate the world, and his dilemma of choosing between imagination and mundane

But this is only one pathway into the labyrinth of possible readings. Central . to Purcarete’s exploration is Caliban’s

magical spirits.

reassuring line to the castaways, ‘The isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs.’ In addition to live strings, layers of taped music and sound run through the performance. Composed and arranged by Eurooisney’s Romanian musical director Vasile Sirli, the continuous soundtrack reflects the wonderful world of Prospero, suggesting the island’s fantasia of

Assistant director Jamie Garven explains: ‘Prospero is the centre of the play. iie’s regarded as an artist, and when he’s in his art he’s a king in all his pomp, young and vigorous; when he’s outside it, he’s decrepit. And like all artists, he feels that he’s been deposed from his rightful throne.

‘Also, he’s reached a turning point. He can continue his solipsistic life on this island, all-powerful but cut oft from the real world; or he can make contact with reality and return

Miranda to the world of flesh and blood.’

With a stark, minimalist set, Caliban viewed not as a monster but as a giant baby and Ariel appearing only as a disembodied voice, the production may surprise traditionalists. Nonetheless, Garven believes the European aesthetic offered by Purcarete, Sirli and Portuguese designer Jose Manuel Melo is a valuable asset, and the Romanian experience may explain the bleak ending. ‘l think this is an Ice Queen of a Tempest,’ says Carven. ‘There’s no sentiments at all, which is not to say there’s no feeling. it’s a bit like The Tempest on the dark side of the moon.’ (David Harris)

The Tempest, Nottingham Playhouse/Thea” Cltvyd on tour, Tramway, Glasgow, Tue 14-Sat 18 November.

The List 3- l6 Nov l‘)*)5 57