...but Macbeth comes cheap

20th October 1995 at 01:00
Is this a hexagon I see before me? Macbeth offers many study options.

MACBETH. BBCHarperCollinsAttica.

CD-Rom for Windows Multimedia PCs (minimum PC 486SX with 4 megabytes of memory) with teacher's notes, Pounds 75. (Apple version in January 1996. ) From HarperCollins, Freepost GW2446, Bishopbriggs, Glasgow G64 1BR.

This gives the same user-friendly performance as its predecessor, the excellent Romeo and Juliet. An on-screen hexagon draws you into the program by offering a choice of Play, Plot, Performance, Characters, Language, Theme and Background.

Once into a section, the alternative options may be easily obtained through use of the tool bar at the bottom of the screen.

The Play option calls up a complete audio version of Macbeth, illustrated by selected clips from the BBC version and a range of stills. Difficult vocabulary is highlighted and you can reach a clear, useful glossary by clicking.

The Plot option provides summaries of all the scenes and a useful plot line. Under Themes, you can explore a theme in depth fate, guilt or ambition, for example and be directed to key scenes.

The Performance, Language and Background sections all provide a wealth of clear information on topics including: actors and acting; past performances; the theatre in Shakespeare's day; criticism from varied sources (Samuel Johnson to Judi Dench).

This Macbeth will prove a great motivator for teachers and pupils alike as it combines the play with striking visual images as well as intelligent text, providing a brilliant format for supporting study of the play. The teacher and student will find many uses for this product: it enhances individual study, lends itself well to pair or group research and offers a chance to hear the actual text while being able to pause and find out more detail. This fine package comes at a price that even the most cash-starved English department might do well to consider. A stunning encore to the terrific Romeo and Juliet.

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