Macbeth under the stars

The witches awaiting Macbeth’s arrival

Happy Labour Day weekend, y’all!

What a great weekend to be out and about having the time of my life, smug in the knowledge I have an extra day to rest today! (I’m also smug because I woke up with a good bowl hair day this morning. I am not washing my hair today!)

Yesterday, I watched my first Shakespearean play outdoors under the stars and urban fog. (There were no stars but you get my drift.)

We brought food, drinks, games and picnic mats. We also started queuing one hour before the play was supposed to start. Luckily, I had competitive friends who were determined to secure the best view possible. There were hundreds of people behind us by the time we were fanning ourselves with the programme notes.

When the gates opened, two of them surged ahead to reserve the best “seats” while three of us walked as fast as we could behind. We laid down our mats on the lawn, spread our food out and started eating. We celebrated a friend’s birthday and took pictures. There were crispy seaweed, gigantic orange Chee-tos, Lays crisps and Subway sandwiches. Two more friends arrived, bringing homemade brownies, and more even more snacks.

The evening air was warm but the companionship was enjoyable. I am so glad I decided to join them.

We played Taboo (a game I am surprisingly ok at if there are no crazy participants giving me extra pressure). Another two friends arrived just minutes before the show. They brought sushi. I wish I thought of that.

There were definitely people extremely well-versed in outdoor picnics. I spent my time taking mental notes on what to bring for my next romantic picnic.

Some had lovely picnic baskets to store their food and ice coolers for their drinks. Soft velvety mats that had a waterproof base were the best because you can easily clean the wet grass off later and still sit in comfort. Wine glass holders were useful if you want to drink champagne or white wine.

Strong cutlery, paper napkins, plastic cups and bowls were very useful. Wet wipes, trash bag and fans (electric/paper) were another must. Food should be stored in plastic tupperware and aluminium foil. Some brought candles for extra light. I think a torchlight might suffice. I thought of bringing Tiger Balm and insect repellent but my mate had a even better solution. She had an iPhone app which wards off mosquitoes. I’m so downloading it the next time we have a picnic or go to the park. The two huge bites on my legs are still itching from the day we went to botanic gardens.

And if your butt gets as sore as mine after three hours on an uneven grass patch, remember to bring cushions. Big fluffy pillows were good to bring along to lean on during the show. Some people looked so comfortable lying on their pillows, I wouldn’t be surprised they fell asleep.

And smoke billowed out of the stage. A hush descended on the audience. The play was starting.

I studied Macbeth in school and to see it brought to life in a traditional context mixed with modern elements was fascinating.

The plot, script and dialogue were true to Shakespeare’s original story. I found myself having to mentally translate sentences into modern English. Shakespearean English is long-winded and really, the innuendoes used are aplenty to confuse thee.

To be close enough to the stage where I could see the actors’ spit and perspiration was hilarious. The sound effects were deafening (maybe I was too close to the speakers). The costumes and props were amusingly modern.

The witches were my favourite bit. They were eerily good and absorbed in their role. I snapped a few photos and they looked creepy now. But I really expected the cauldron to be round, not rectangular.

Fire burn and rectangular cauldron bubble

The prop used for the finale was also kind of lame. There was a little textual twist to certain parts of the story that you might wonder about. (Thankfully, the director addressed them in the Q&A later.) Still, I was riveted to every scene, trying to absorb as much poetic dialogue as I can. I only moved occasionally to stretch my legs so I won’t end up with excruciating pins and needles. But my sore butt was never the same after three hours. It is still aching as I typed this.

But really, for a first-timer to a Shakespearean play under the stars, it was an awesome new experience! And I always love trying new things. I can’t wait for the next one in July.

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