Once, when Alex was a pretty little guy, he was lying in bed at night when he suddenly piped up, “Still going!” Somewhere, he’d heard the ad about the energizer bunny and he was letting us know that he still had plenty of gas left.
Still going — how amazing! That’s what sprang to mind when I saw a headline on the front page of the New York Times that read, “The Deed is Done, The Doers Undone,” along with a huge photo. It was a spread that any playwright would be ecstatic to see. Who was the lucky writer? Our boy Will — as in Shakespeare.
The story was about a new production of Macbeth, and the reviewer, Ben Brantley, wasn’t just enthusiastic — he was enraptured. What he especially liked about this interpretation was its slow-build style. As Ben put it: “But much of the beauty of both Mr. Thompson’s performance and Ms. Arbus’s production comes from a sort of artistic patience, a willingness to start off quiet and take things slow. This ‘Macbeth’ banks the sound and the fury that lies with within the play and its character….you’re always aware of a humming silence beneath. It’s the kind of noiselessness in which a man’s thoughts can creep up on him and grab him in a stranglehold.”
The reviewer finds this quiet intensity far more effective that flashier takes on the tragedy: “Pauses, which Ms. Arbus uses brilliantly, are dangerous, because they force you to look around you and within yourself.”
I love the way Ben, almost without thinking, connects the play to its viewers. He also speaks about it with a freshness that’s very appealing. It’s clear that this interpretation of Macbeth has opened his eyes to new ways of looking at the character. How wonderful to think that an inventive, spirited rendition of this dark, blood-soaked story can makes its characters live and breathe so intensely. What is there about our boy Will’s characters that makes them so complex and real that actors and directors can dive into them again and again and still find new depths?