Theater archives

Macbeth Set In A 1970s Eastern-Bloc Mental Institution


That’s how one of the contributors on the popular site describes the currently previewing production of Macbeth starring the daring Alan Cumming as the manipulated male of the title.

Switching milieus of Shakespeare plays to update/enhance/comment on the text is nothing new, but this one’s twist might put a fresher spin on what’s notoriously been called “the bad luck play.” After all, a 2008 production starring Patrick Stewart as the power-mad Scotsman exuded an ambience that the New York Times called “the age of Stalin as reimagined by George Orwell in 1984,” with a hint of Wes Craven. That happened to be a brilliant interpretation–one that viscerally and visually made things hyper relevant while also respecting the words enough to justify the variations. Even the morgue scenes somehow brought new life to old Will.

And can you imagine some of the other possibilities directors could work on the unwitting bard?

Romeo & Juliet set in a 1970s Eastern-bloc mental institution.

Love’s Labour’s Lost exuding an ambience of the age of Stalin, as reimagined by George Orwell for 1984, with a hint of Wes Craven.

The Tempest set in a 1970s Eastern-bloc mental institution as reimagined by Stalin, Orwell, and Wes Craven.

As You Like It done as you like it–in other words, with the audience yelling out requests. (“Stalin!” “Orwell!” “Sing ‘Melancholy Baby”!)