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Macbeth is one of the darkest and most tragic plays written by the famous English playwright William Shakespeare. Written during the period of 1603 and 1607, Macbeth's first production was recorded at the Globe Theater in the year 1611. It is Shakespeare's shortest written tragedy set in Scotland showcases the darker side of human nature as the protagonist, Macbeth, commits various sins and political backstabbing to fulfill his ambition for power and ascends the throne. He is spurred on in his path of sinful greed by his wife. Over the course of the centuries Macbeth has been one of the most popular and powerful plays, enacted at some of the most famous stages, the world over and the characters have been portrayed by some of the most famous names in the history of theater. The play has also been adapted to films, television shows, comic books and opera.
Macbeth is a general of King Duncan's army, ruler of Scotland. The story begins when Macbeth and his friend and also a general, Banqou, encounter the three witches who prophesied that Macbeth would one day be king of Scotland while Banquo will father a line of kings, though himself not be one. When Macbeth tells his wife, Lady Macbeth of the prophecy, she immediately hatches a plot to murder King Duncan so that Macbeth can ascend the throne of Scotland. Driven by his wife's will and his own greed for power, Macbeth stabs King Duncan and becomes king. His reign is not smooth, as his own greed and ambition take the better of him. He visits the three witches once more who give him a new dark prophecy surrounding his reign. Consumed by his insecurities Macbeth embarks on a path of dirty politics, killing off all those he deemed rivals to his throne. Lady Macbeth meanwhile struck with guilt over the murder of King Duncan, has terrifying hallucinations that eventually drive her to suicide. The final battle where Macduff, the Thane of Fife and Malcolm, son of King Duncan, join forces against Macbeth ends with Macbeth being killed, and Malcolm assuming power on the throne of Scotland.
The Macbeth productions in the twenty first centuries have been directed by luminaries such as Orson Wells in 1936, Bernard Miles in 1951that reconstructed the Elizabethan pronunciations. The 1999 production by Gregory Doran received great critical success. The general consensus on the best performances in the role of Macbeth are those portrayed by Laurence Oliver in 1955, Ian Mckellan's portrayal in 1976 and that of Antony Sher in 1999, with Oliver's role, where Vivien Leigh played Lady Macbeth considered the best in modern times.
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