by Noah Lukeman
Okay. So about a week ago I wrote an excellent blog post about this play and then went to post it and BAM! Error message. Lost entire post. Curse of Macbeth perhaps? OOOOOOooooooOOOOooooo. It's taken me a while but let's try again.
I first saw this play on the shelves of the Drama Bookshop and, needless to say, I was skeptical. Someone tried to write a sequel to one of the greatest English tragedies ever? In blank verse nonetheless?!?! Bold. BUT recently, someone that I respect a great deal recommended it to me. So, for his sake, I gave it a read.
I loved it.
Is it the sequel that Shakespeare would have written? Probably not. But that's exactly why I liked it so much. I feel like Lukeman was able to take risks with characters and situations that the culture surrounding Shakespeare wouldn't have allowed. Granted, I did find some of the scenes to be bordering on the cheesy, but with the right actors and direction? No problem.
SO, It's been ten years since the Macbeths died and the land is at peace under Malcolm's rule. Malcolm, however, has had ten years to think about the prophecy that Banquo's issue, sooner or later, would be King. He fears Fleance, who has been gathering soldiers, and tells his men to watch the young threat, but not to strike, because:
Graver the danger that I
become the likeness of Macbeth than that
a boy-man dream of breaching Dunsinane.
Malcolm's men (who are almost all driven by their own desires) plant seeds of doubt in his head about not only Fleance, but also Donalbain, his own brother who fled to Ireland. Malcolm refuses to think poorly of his brother but Seyton warns him:
villain does not reveal himself until
the moment meet for his desire -
I don't want to reveal all of the awesome things that happen because I want you to read it for yourself. So I may be a little vague from here on.. Malcolm is frightened and the peace makes him uneasy so he goes to visit everyone's favorite villains, the witches. They prophesy a few things that confuse both Malcolm and us.. but are later revealed as they come true.
Later on, Malcolm falls in love with a girl, who is sort of a mix of Isabella and Imogen, with a dash of Caesar's Portia. This heroin is actually my favorite character in the piece. She has some beautiful speeches. When Malcolm confesses his feelings, she responds:
It is not requited. And if it were,
I would have no extravagant way
to frame the words, have no device to gild
my syllables, but only say, I love you.
While Malcolm is busy falling in love, Fleance (who, grown up, reminds me of Florizel) is far away planning for battle. We first see him trying to convince his lover, Fiona, to come away with him. This pastoral scene is a sharp contrast from the tension of Malcolm's court. Alas, Fiona is killed, forcing Fleance to a harsher state of mind. He vows:
I who gave my life to love shall learn
the ways of war; I who worshipped Venus
will turn my face to Mars.
Fleance is shown as a fair man. Upon meeting the son of the old Cawdor, all of his men are wary but Fleance says:
trust you, for it takes equal courage
to trust as to live, and in these times
we must learn to live again.
A kingly sentiment, I think.
Lukeman is clearly very smart, and has let his imagination run wild with these already-famous characters. The Seed of Banquo is a treat. Whether you're familiar with Macbeth or not, I promise you'll be entertained!
Tomorrow's Play: Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller, new version by Peter Oswald