Scotland Now Has Its Very Own ‘Macbeth’ Tour

Move over, Sex & The City tours. (Seriously, do those things still exist?) Scotland is counting on enough rabid fans of William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth that it has created a tour of locales pertinent to the book in attempt to boost tourism. 

As the UK’s Telegraph reports, Macbeth was a real-life Scottish king (also known as the Thrane Of Glamis) who reigned from 1040 to 1057 and lived in castles throughout the country. But unlike our conceptions of tourist-trap-style tours which take place on double decker buses, this Shakespeare tour will be for individual motorists.

The Scotland Herald describes the locations on the tour to include "Glamis, Lumphanan, a village in Aberdeenshire where Macbeth was killed in battle in 1047, and Cairn O’Mount, Aberdeenshire, where Macbeth took his supporters en route to Lumphanan."  

The tour also hopes to separate facts from fiction, as some Scots are apparently butthurt by the way Macbeth was misportrayed in the Shakespearean play. Oh, those Europeans!  

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

I Saw ‘Sleep No More’ Again Last Night But Didn’t See Any Naked People

I went to Sleep No More last night for the second time. If you aren’t aware of the immersive, interactive theater experience, don’t feel bad: plenty of people I’ve talked to in the last few months seem to be unaware of the production, despite the show’s popularity in New York since it opened in March 2011. Taking elements from Macbeth, Rebecca, Hitchcock, and Kubrick (just to name a few), the show is up to three hours of wandering around in the darkened multi-level McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, where bloodied actors run, dance, and fight accompanied to a blaring, dramatic score. And sometimes they get naked, too! But I wouldn’t know anything about that, because despite my best efforts, I seem to have missed out on all the fun parts.

Here’s what I saw last night: a pregnant woman being thrown against a wall by an angry man in a tuxedo, a hot guy lip-syncing to a cover of Peggy Lee’s "Is That All There Is," Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fighting in loud gibberish in a room full of empty drawers, the aforementioned pregnant woman taking off and on her housecoat (a scene I saw twice—the sequence of events happens multiple times so that the audience members can see the multiple storylines—because I happened to be exploring the woman’s bedroom right before she and a crowd of my fellow masked theatergoers trapped me in the corner of the room during the second instance of the scene), and a severe looking maid forcing the pregnant woman with a glass of cloudy water. Oh, and some ballroom dancing. That was kinda fun! 

Afterward, I asked my friends who came with me (from whom I was immediately separated, as the show encourages solo experiences rather than tagging along with loved ones through the dark) what they saw. My boyfriend saw the famous orgy scene not once but twice, while our other friend complained that he mostly saw a bunch of dudes sitting around and playing cards or doing paperwork. (There are, I must admit, some really dull moments, and because you can’t check your cell phone for the time, the three hours start to feel like five.) While I missed two women breast-feeding a goat or the full-frontal male nudity, I did happen to see a nip-slip when a woman in a low-cut dress started writhing on a dilapidated bar while another woman in a red dress tossed water on her. (No one told me that there were some Flashdance references there.)

So it’s an unpopular opinion, I think, but I must admit that my second time at Sleep No More was kind of a bust, and while the production as a whole is pretty fucking amazing considering the design and choreography, the chances that you have any personal experiences with the actors (or see any dicks) are slim and random, leaving it feeling rather like a pretentious haunted house without the frights. I know plenty of people who have gone back multiple times, but the current price of admission ($95, which is up twenty bucks from when I saw it last year) leave me feeling like it’s probably not worth a third visit. But I still recommend it for the experience. And hey, Scores and The Eagle (depending on your gender preference) are a block away if you’re unsatisfied with the nudity at Sleep No More.

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Sleep No More Moves Up to the Roof With Gallow Green

By now, if you haven’t heard of Sleep No More, a macabre, interactive version of Macbeth by the British theatrical group Punchdrunk, you are probably living under a rock. But while many of the mysteries of the show have been revealed via blogs and Yelp, the folks behind the performance keep adding new bits.

Their most recent addition is Gallow Green, a rooftop space above the masked madness below. Right now, the airy bar is in previews, so forgive them if the older lady in white stumbles, both on her words and the uneven terrine—it’s still 100 percent worth checking out. First, it’s on a roof, which always makes things more exciting, especially at sunset after a heavy rainstorm. Luckily, even if it rains, the majority of the space is sheltered in airy tarps. On one end they have a glorious old train car, gutted and rusted with delicate lace curtains hanging in the windows and a long, wooden table in the center. The rest of Gallow Green is a mesh of tables situated around pentagonal structure with rows of fresh herbs growing and white clad waiters running around. The whole thing brings to mind a fairy tale or some Shakespearian sonnet, perhaps it’s an urban version of Midsummer’s Night Dream?

Now, as for the acting part: like Sleep No More, there is a vague plot to Gallow Green, as well as an ominous elevator. This one is named Miranda, and the groans and squeaks that emanate from her make you wonder if the noises are for real or a soundtrack hidden in the paneling. Once you arrive upstairs, a hostess running the “fresh” flower stall (ask her for a stem, she will let you have it) greets you and leads you upstairs. We were graciously seated and poured over the menu of punches like the Sleep Bowmore Punch (made with Madeira wine, Bowmore single-malt whisky, nutmeg, and orange Curacao), which were created by cocktail expert David Wondrich. They also have a nice house cocktail list with appropriately themed names like Damned Spot (with Famous Grouse whisky, limes, Fentiman’s ginger beer, and a “spot” of Petchaud’s bitters) and Third Degree (with gin, dry vermouth, absinthe, and orange bitters). For food, the plates are small but succulent and run from three to seventeen dollars. We loved the warm pretzels with spicy mustard, Scotch quail eggs, the fun jar of summer pickles, and rich pulled brisket toast with tomato jam.

Once we settled into our cocktails and nibbles, that’s when we realized Gallow Green is a play. It became clear after a mysterious lady in a white satin gown came around and told us she and her husband threw this party for an important woman every night, just in case she showed up. The husband came by and said the same thing, and wispy girls flitted about the place looking lost, sad, and in love. Apparently, none were the one the couple was waiting for, but I did leave wondering who she was and what would happen if she did show, which, undoubtedly, at some point she does. With Gallow Green, at every turn you get the sense of the mystery and finesse that made Sleep So More so popular, and, if they play their cards right, it will be just as successful—at least until winter comes. 

Charlize Theron and the History of Evil Queens

Long before the Julia Roberts stinker Mirror, Mirror came and went, there was talk about that movie and the forthcoming Snow White and the Huntsman and which witch—Roberts’ evil queen or that of Huntsman’s Charlize Theron—would be worst. Talk no more, folks. Today a clip from Huntsman, featuring Theron not-so-gently asking her loyal servant, played by everyhunk Chris Hemsworth, to go into some haunted-ass woods and hunt down Snow White so the queen can eat her heart already.

But what we’re seeing from Theron, while pretty good considering our recent smattering of evil queens, isn’t without precedent. No, there have been evil queens before. And they’ve been bad. Really bad. Like the Wicked Queen from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Or Mary, Queen of Scots, whose bloody reign stretched across Europe and gave Vanessa Redgrave a meaty role to play.

There was Dame Judi Dench as the ultimate bad girl, even if she was royal only briefly, Lady MacBeth.

Pinks Flamingos’ Babs Johnson might not live in a castle, but Divine was sure one killer queen. And you don’t get much more evil than Babs.