Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lady M by Melissa Smith-Rodriguez, Salvage Vanguard Theater, January 19, 23, 25, 28

With the imagining of her piece Lady M Melissa Smith-Rodriguez explores the darkness of pre-history, of feudal Scots customs and of the perceived enigma of character of the leading woman in Shakespeare's Macbeth. This play is not an exculpation of Macbeth's unnamed lady but rather athe creation of a fictional history explaining the woman's cold, fierce and ambitious nature.

As a mantra and foreshadowing the playwright evokes the dark night of Act II, Scene 2 with Lady Macbeth's feverish comment,
" Had he not resembled /My father as he slept, I had done’t."

Ours is an age of prequels -- to use that nasty twentieth century neologism made popular by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola -- and most of them have motivations far more commercial than this piece. Smith-Rodriguez's Lady M is a serious and respectful piece, providing a credible back story.

Recorded Scottish history was no great help, as the playwright notes in the program. Gruoch, who later became queen to Macbeth, had been married to a nobleman who died along with fifty of his followers when a hall caught fire. The cause is unknown. Macbeth married Gruoch subsequently and they ruled in peace for many years.

The playwright focuses on the young Gruoch, mother of an infant daughter, and supposes that Gruoch's father Boite was scheming to clear his own way to assume the crown of Scotland. Their kinsman the young Macbeth thirsts for vengeance for the murder of close family members by unknown hands. The arrogant and duplicitous Boite informs Macbeth that Gruoch's husband was responsible and persuades Macbeth to set the fire that kills the man and his followers.

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com. . . .

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