Macbeth has always been an attractive play for examiners and producers, combining as it does the full sweep of martial drama, personal tragedy, the supernatural and (in one scene at least) comedy. The scenes are relatively short and the soliloquies brief, and Shakespeare's language is charged with clear double meanings and dramatic irony right from the opening lines. Macbeth is also full of Shakespeare's phrases that have become a part of everyday speech and the play contains some of the Bards most memorable images, such as Lady Macbeth sleepwalking and the three weird sisters.
SmartPass provides a full cast recording of Macbeth which you can listen to either uninterrupted or scene by scene, introduced by a discussion of the action, an explanation of difficult language, and commentary on Shakespeare's dramatic art.
As an introduction to and a revision aid for the study of Macbeth, I can think of no better medium than this CD, including, as it does, the full text of the play and of the commentary, which you can read on a computer, or print out. Putting all this material on a single disk, with the audio tracks as MP3s, is a coup (and I hope other audiobook publishers will follow suit).
It would be wrong to believe that this publication provides everything needed to pass an exam. The commentary is good in so far as it goes, and I predict that one or two points will be endlessly reproduced in exam answers, much to the irritation of examiners (such as the references to 'child abuse'), but if SmartPass can give students the confidence to search deeper into individual texts (and I think it will), then let us hope more titles will soon be produced.
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