Wednesday, November 29, 2017


It was such a surprise to be gifted tickets by the friends for the opening night of Ninagawa Company’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. The costumes and kimonos were splendid and glorious. For a large part of the performance, I managed to push ‘Macbeth’ out of my mind, and saw it as it is- an adaptation as a samurai drama. Hurhurhur. Having it performed in Japanese successfully threw all of Shakespeare’s language out of my head. I mostly ignored the surtitles since those were in painful “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie!” I understood the Japanese script fine.

Originally created in 1980 and directed by the late Yukio Ninagawa, this ‘Macbeth’ sticks closely to what audiences saw three decades ago. This is my first time seeing it. What a beautiful performance. Of course I'm not familiar with the actors, and frankly, I didn't care because I watched the play as a whole, not for anyone. I kinda enjoyed it wayy more than ermm... 'Macbeth' in English and its traditional presentation at the Globe. The music is haunting, and oddly un-Japanese- 'Sanctus' from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

translated line from an interview with Masachika Ichimura who played the title role of Macbeth does sum up my feelings about this show, "It feels like Shakespeare, and yet it is not Shakespeare. It's like a Western play and yet, it's not." To me, it is definitely a Japanese play, showing us the late 15th and 16th century Shogunate-daimyo periods where historical records note it as the 'Age of the Warring States'. The stage set contains a butsudan (仏壇、ぶつだん), an effective visual which pulls the audiences into the era and this side of the world, and highlighting the concept of 'karma'. What a superb performance! Absolutely magical. What a treat!

No comments: