Poor UP remains stuck in the hospital. It's always nice to be relaxing when the weather's nice, but I suspect this may not be his idea of fun. I popped in for a quick visit yesterday and realised that he was doing well to keep his spirits up. It's one thing to be practically comatose through illness, where being in bed all day doesn't really matter, but when you're awake and fully functional, it must be tedious in extremis.
Up was supposed to come with The Queen and The Cat's Mother and I to Manchester this weekend, but his injuries prevented this...another reason he will be feeling low. We went up there to see some friends...and to see Kenneth Brannagh perform MacBeth.
The Scottish play was being performed in an abandoned church in Manchester's North Quarter. This is one of those areas that is full of satanic mills which are gradually being turned into hyper-trendy shops, offices and apartments. Bravo I say...it is a tragedy to see these places being ripped down, when with a bit of imagination they can be turned into fantastically attractive areas. There is a slight however: at the moment I would guess there isn't the economy to support the development... I'm talking partially blind here, so may just be talking nonsense, but it certainly felt as though much of the property stock was empty, and the area still had a feeling of desolation. This provoked a discussion on the way home about how our experience was at least in our experience of the accountancy field and the creative sector, there is not a strong enough underlying economy outside of London to support the level of business the country needs to support its urban societies. In fact after a gin and tonic or two, we speculated on the impact not of Scotland seceding from the Union, but what would happen if everything inside the M25 broke free? Anyway, that's soft southerners talking a load of old drunken nonsense really.
Back to Kenneth...performed in a deconsecrated church with the audience of an aisle filled with mud, this was a MacBeth that will be talked about for a long time. At the start, water pours as rain from above to confirm this is the bleak highlands. THroughout, the actors have to wade knee deep through the mud as they move from one end to the other...they must have been exhausted especially wearing such heavy costumes in hot weather. We were in the front row which meant that we had to keep ducking as heavy metal swords clashed just inches from our heads....you could smell the sweat. It was earthy indeed. Poor Banquo came to his very sticky end right in front of our noses, spraying mud and blood everywhere - no wonder the organisers said don't wear your best frock. The weird sisters were extremely weird, keeping an eye on things with their sinister machinations throughout the performance. Kenneth played his part well...very well, as did Alex Kingston as the mad and bad Lady MacBeth, MacDuff was superb. Anyway, although tickets have long sold out, you can still get to see it as a cinema near you on 20th July through National Theatre Live. I don't quite know how they will convey the atmosphere created in the church, but if they can you will be in for an absolute treat...really I do recommend you don't miss it.
Yes, that is blood splattered all over my t-shirt...a MacBeth souvenir from the Globe that caused much comment and appreciation...even from the actors themselves