‘Double, double, toil and trouble’ — The Scottish play, “Macbeth,” haunts Sierra Cinemas May 10 and Sutton Cinemas May 23 | TheUnion.com

‘Double, double, toil and trouble’ — The Scottish play, “Macbeth,” haunts Sierra Cinemas May 10 and Sutton Cinemas May 23

John Deaderick
Special to Prospector

If it's May it must be "Macbeth" month, with two very different productions beaming in via satellite from across the pond.

"The Scottish Play," as superstitious theater types dub it when in the hallowed confines of a performing space, has been affecting audiences since it first haunted the stage in 1606.

Shakespeare's shortest, most compact tragedy reveals, among other things, the astute political and economic acumen of its author.

A Scottish play for a Scottish King: the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603 left Shakespeare in need of patronage and protection. So, to appease the new ruler, James I, formerly James VI of Scotland, The Bard pens this dark and twisted tale.

A short-ish play for the narcoleptic James, who claimed descent from the play's nobly martyred Banquo, and a play noted for its tricksy witches for James who considered himself an expert on matters supernatural. James had written a book, Daemonologie, responsible for the burning and otherwise murders of tens of thousands of practitioners of herbal medicine, midwifery and other such nefarious pursuits.

Well, it worked. The Lord Chamberlain's Men became the King's Men and Shakespeare's professional life was secured.

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Still, it's a great play, a morality tale dealing with the consequences of unchecked ambition and the lust for power at all costs.

The Macbeths learn to their damning sorrow that getting what you want isn't necessarily what you thought it would be. What was true then perhaps remains true now: the ends not only do not justify the means, the means carry within them their own undoing.

The two productions on their way to us (I can barely wait) are both modern dress, so if you're expecting kilts, forget it.

First comes the National Theatre Live presentation with the incomparable Rory Kinnear in the title role. He has stunned us as Iago, as Hamlet, and as Karl Marx. His diction is eloquent and his commitment to the moment unparalleled.

A couple weeks later Christopher Eccleston arrives in the Royal Shakespeare Company vehicle. You may know him as the ninth Doctor Who, but his credits far extend beyond that. He is an actor of uncommon depth and power.

As to the Lady Macbeths, let me first say that it was never her fault; she gets a bad rap, like Eve. That's just men failing to be accountable for their actions. Anne-Marie Duff and Niamh Cusack give us their all, in that order.

Not to be missed.

John Deaderick is a theatre artist and the author of "Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis," available at Amazon.com.

KNOW & GO

WHO: Sutton Cinemas Presents

WHAT: Royal Shakespeare Company Live: “Macbeth”

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23

WHERE: Sutton Cinemas, 399 Sutton Way, Grass Valley

TICKETS: $15 All Seats; Available online at http://www.sierratheaters.com or at the Sutton Cinemas Box Office

INFO: http://www.sierratheaters.com, 530-477-9000