Archive | April, 2011

Macbeth at the RSC: Review

26 Apr

Macbeth played by Jonathon Slinger, who was well reviewed as Richard III in the last histories season at the RSC.

A brand new theatre with which to play and certainly the RSC have used every aspect possible in their production. But Macbeth spoke true when he described ‘merely players’; the production failed to impress. The ideas worked, as ideas, but the execution was poor – perhaps in time the polishing of nightly performances will prevail and create an inspiring show. But not yet, and not for a while. (For me to review accurately the following must contain many spoilers.)

The audience’s expectation of three witches attending in a puff of smoke was brilliantly revoked by three children hanging like rag dolls from ropes with innocent reverberated voices. The woe of child actors will always be, however, that even if they perfect their lines (which they didn’t) and remember all their direction, their characterisation does not feel intuitive or consistent; they rarely maintain a character throughout. (We had a cheekily grinning ghost and a spectacularly unhorrific slaughter of Child Macduff.) Type casting, which the casting of children must usually be, can work in Hollywood, but not in Shakespeare. The scene when they first meet Macbeth and Banquo works only if the witches appear intangible, instead the children seemed vulnerable, present and too real. It was as though Macbeth were in control of the scene, prompting, and the children replying. There was no dizzying confusion as the witches vanished and reappeared. It was too stilted and slow-paced. The children used dolls to suggest some sort of voodoo magic, they were a bit freaky, more a hindrance to the scenes. The children walked around holding them, but made little dramatic use of them except to suggest the characters they spoke of. Not creepy.

Madness. For me, Macbeth’s tyrannous progression is from ‘vaulting ambition’ to all-engrossing insanity, in partnership with a manipulative, beguiling wife. Lady Macbeth was most certainly ancillary in this production, confirming for Macbeth what he already wished to do; in some productions the Macbeths are presented as equals, or even Lady Macbeth as the more powerful. Lady Macbeth here was fine. Her sleep walking speech was fine, she captured some of the insanity, it was a little bit scary, it was quite mad, though it was without climax (the same can be said of the play). She was quite manipulative. She was very aristocratic with a hint of Scottish in her voice, sometimes. I liked her sort of crazy evil laughter at the dinner party. I liked the repetition of that scene with and without Banquo.

Macbeth seemed to have been directed to progress from a not-convincingly brave soldier, naively taken in by three children, whom he neither seemed frightened by, nor particularly aghast at their presence (in fact, it felt as though he were expecting the kids to mess up – he spoke patronisingly to them), to a babyish King and finally to a middle-aged man who is a bit fed up with life. His ‘strut the stage’ speech was projected from the top of a 7m ladder – I think to suggest him standing up on cattle battlements looking down to Birnham wood (four tree like leafy branches brought on by Mrs Macduff and her three children – their ghosts were Malcolm’s army). Whilst his elevated position removed him from the stage and thus he transcended metaphorically the players he spoke of,  he spoke as one who just cannot be bothered, cannot continue living. There was no sudden moment of eloquence in the madness, which instigates the result of catharsis, as the hero comes to the realisation that he cannot go on living. The magic of the speech can silence the audience into poised stillness; if well executed no one dares cough. People spluttered during this. The speech did not feel resultant, like it had come from frantic thoughts, or even from any remembrance of his murderous intents. Preceding the speech, every movement Macbeth made on the ladder meant his sword clanged against it. Irritating.

The cellos were fantastic. Awesome dissonance created, super technical playing.

The tour around the new theatre was more magical than the performance. I preferred the Court Yard theatre to see shows at. Row C in the Circle has a very uncomfortable seat, although the view was good, and I am glad I only paid for a £5 16-25 ticket. After The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet (twice), As You Like It and King Lear… well, it was a disappointment.

Let me know how you found the performance in the comments below. Have you seen the new theatre?

Macbeth RSC Website

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Face of the Day: Sports Test

18 Apr

How well does your makeup stand the test of a bit of sweat, eating and time? I took a photo right after applying my makeup and then another after lunch, playing tennis – four hours later. I would not ordinarily wear lots of makeup to play sport (!) I just thought it would be a good test.

In comparison, my skin certainly looks more even and clear with the foundation freshly applied. I would be surprised if there was much left in the after picture. That being said, if I hadn’t been out in the sun playing tennis I am sure the foundation would have lasted longer. I didn’t use a primer, which may have helped. I would say that the concealer has done a magnificent job under my eyes, which without makeup are deep grey.

Chanel Pro Lumiere is my go-to foundation, ordinarily it will last me most of the day. It produces a ‘professional finish’, satin without shine and medium coverage, which photographs brilliantly. A light dusting of the Body Shop powder over the top makes the skin pristine. I have repurchased the powder four times: it’s soft, easy to apply and never clogs on dry skin even if your skin is undermoisturized. I use it as a finishing powder, as well as a foundation in its own right applied with a sponge.

The Chanel Lipstick has, of course, completely disappeared. It partially made it through lunch, but all the sips of water during tennis must have made it vamoosh. As much as I love the finish and the colours and the oh so sexy packaging, Chanel Lipsticks just never win me over because of their (lack of) staying power.

I was unimpressed by the performance of the Benefit Bad Gal Mascara. It applies neatly and creates long lashes, without much volume; I prefer length to volume (Long Pretty Lashes by Clinique is my biggest ‘discontinued’ regret). I wore waterproof to ensure that it stayed put, but upon my return home I could not help but remove the ungainly dark smudges beneath my eyes. In the photo, therefore, this problem goes unrecognised. It seems amazing that such a renowned brand could not make a waterproof mascara that withstands some heat. Others, I know, would swear by this mascara and sleep with it on after nights out. Personally, though, I am still in search of the perfect waterproof. Any suggestions?

Products Used:

Chanel Pro Lumiere Clair 20

Body Shop All In One Face Base 04

Clinique All About Eyes Concealer

Estée Lauder Soft Matte Bronze

Benefit BadGal Waterproof Mascara Black

L’Occtaine Lip balm

Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick 75 Amusing

Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick Review

18 Apr

Chanel Rouge Allure lipsticks apply beautifully smoothly. They are wonderfully gentle, highly pigmented and have a shine to them. The lipstick creates a strong colour on the lips with a natural sheen.

Adorable is a rose-pink, which is just slightly darker than my natural lip colour.

Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick 70 Adorable

Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick 70 Adorable

Amusing is a gentle red with copper undertones.

Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick 75 Amusing

Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick 75 Amusing

The lipstick can be layered to create a lighter or darker colour and over a rich lip balm the colour can be reduced to a lovely ‘lipstained’ appearance.

These are not long-lasting lipsticks, about 4 hours is their maximum. If you are willing to reapply between courses at a dinner, or after lunch at work then these lipsticks are perfect. For longevity Bobbi Brown have Metallic Lip Shine Lipsticks, which are also rich colours with a sheen; these last through meals and for about 6 hours.

70 Adorable (below) 75 Amusing (above) Swatches

See Also: Chanel Rouge Coco Review