Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Scottish play

Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast,--

A number of years ago my daughter was involved with a Shakespeare By The Sea production of Macbeth. It seems that I was too as each night I trekked her and friends to the play and either came back home, then went back again to fetch her or sat around and watched Macbeth - over and over and over and over.

It was set on the edge of cliff in Logy Bay overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. An idyllic setting, rugged and wild which was suitable for a play set in Scotland. But perhaps not the best choice considering the history of that play. Dubbed 'the Scottish play', Macbeth has acquired a reputation as 'cursed' due to calamities which have occurred during various productions over the centuries, including riots, falling scenery, illness and even the death of a lead actor. This one was no different, with actors suffering broken bones and one concussion. Then there was the night that a dog in the audience took offence at the charge of the guards, armed with swords and took off barking in full challenge mode til the embarrassed owner retrieved the animal. The joys of open air theatre...

When I drew this image of a bedroom, the quote from Macbeth sprang to mind immediately - Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care. But that's not the phrase that comes to mind when I think back over that summer of Macbeth plays. It is evocative and provides me with the images of light fading and night taking over. I remember it so strongly that the phrase is commonplace in my head now when afternoon is fading into evening. Light thickens...

Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood:
Good things of day doth droop and drowse;
While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.

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