Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Scottish Play: Movie Review

Can William Shakespeare be both a genius and a ghost?

The year is 2019 and a young director is putting on a production of Macbeth in a Massachusetts Shakespeare festival. He’s determined that it’s going to be a faithful production, true to Shakespeare’s words. A local respected actor is playing Macbeth and a Hollywood actress is returning to her theater roots to play to Lady Macbeth.

Directed by: Keith Boynton

Screenplay by: Keith Boynton

Starring: Tina Benko, Peter Mark Kendall,
and Will Brill

Adam (Peter Mark Kendall) the director has made it clear that there’s no such thing as a curse on Macbeth, no need to call it The Scottish Play, and no need to fear that some terrible calamity is going to befall the play. All is good until the ghost of William Shakespeare himself appears to the lead actress Sydney (Tina Benko) to explain that the curse is real. He had a dalliance with a witch when he was young and that witch did not like the play so she put a curse on it. Oh and he thinks his play sucks, so he’s going to rewrite it.

I am happy to report that the film is exactly as much fun as the premise sounds. The young Will Shakespeare ghost (Will Brill) is delightful and hilarious. He speaks in iambic pentameter, a perfect melodic, very eloquent style suited to the ghost of William Shakespeare but not of the Old English of his time. The movie is a very smart and inventive take of what if William Shakespeare, 400 years later, is a ghost just wandering through New England towns just trying to find someone interesting to talk to about how the world has changed and yet his works are still being discussed.

Sydney enjoys her nightly talks with Will’s ghost, but in the morning at rehearsal she’s having a hard time explaining herself to Adam who understandably doesn’t believe in ghosts and thinks Sydney’s taking direction from a crazy person claiming to be Shakespeare.

This seems to be widely classified as a romance but that’s a cheap way to sell the movie since the romance is just a minor subplot kept on the backburner till the end. It’s a comedy about ghosts and Shakespeare and imaginary curses come to life.

The resolution is good; cute and upbeat. Sometimes the simple answer is the right answer and the film definitely does itself a favour by not making the fantastical premise anymore complicated than it needs to be. The dialogue is just a joy to listen to, and while there have been quite a few movies about Shakespeare and more based on his works, I’m not sure any are this much fun. It’s smart and funny, unique without being extreme. It’s just a really enjoyable well-crafted movie.