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The Scottish Play

USA 2020
produced by
Tony Glazer for Choice Films
directed by Keith Boynton
starring Tina Benko, Peter Mark Kendall, Will Brill, Geraint Wyn Davies, Ali Ahn, Willie C. Carpenter, Madeleine Lodge, Paul Alexander Nolan, Alex Esola, Brit Whittle, Ben Getz, Gordon Tashjian, Carolyn Seiff, Kerry Flanagan, Kirsten Doyle, Mark Johannes, Mary Anisi, Raith Kell, Spencer Cohen
written by Keith Boynton, music by Michael Ford, Andre Fratto

Shakespeare, Macbeth

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Sydney (Tina Benko) is a successful film and TV actress - who just needed to get away from Hollywood for a bit, so she accepted an engagement for a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth in a small New England town. And it really works in her favour that the leading man, Hugh (Geraint Wyn Davies), is an old friend of hers, and she finds it easy to be on the same page with the young director, Adam (Peter Mark Kendall). So despite the alleged "curse of Macbeth", what could go wrong, right? Of course, there are minor mishaps during the first few days of rehearsals, but nothing that's too much out of the ordinary, and suddenly nothing that leaves any real damage. Then though one night, Sydney bumps into a man (Will Brill) talking only in iambic rhyme who claims to be William Shakespeare. Of course she finds the claim ludicrous at first but over the next few days he makes her believe. And Shakespeare has one problem: Despite Macbeth having turned out to be one of his most famous and most recognizable plays, he has never really liked what he has written, claiming he was too short on time - which is why he has time and again sabotaged performances of the play and pretty much created its notoriety as a cursed play. But, having been in limbo for about 400 years, he has long written another version of the play which he calls definite, which he hands over to Sydney to pass on to Adam, for him to put on this version. Now Sydney's blown away by the new version, and Adam really likes it as well - but says he can't put it on because he's been hired to direct Shakespeare's play and doesn't believe Sydney's story about Shakespeare's ghost. Now seeing that Adam has refused to put on the new version, Shakespeare pretty much goes berserk on stage during the next rehearsal unit - but how is that to convince a non-believer?

 

Now I have to admit, Macbeth was always my favourite of Shakespeare's plays (with plenty of runners-up of course), so the premise of this movie already intrigued me, what indeed if Shakespeare never liked this particular play of his, and would it explain the (alleged) curse? Now this film packs the very premise into a rather sweet comedy that at times tries a bit too hard to be unoffensive and keeps the funny-factor on a moderate level throughout - so much so that the IMDb lists the movie as drama -, but it sure has its amusing bits, but what really makes the movie is its performances that work rather beautifully when the actors are in their Macbeth characters as well as when they go for naturalism - it's basically just a joy to see this ensemble act, especially in a story that seems to have to levels of reality just as this one.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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