Macbeth’s Curse On Screen

I’ve seen a lot of films inspired by Shakespeare’s plays in my time, but I’ve never seen one quite like Never Say Macbeth.

This new feature length comedy written by Joe Tyler Gold, directed by C. J Prouty and produced by Tammy Caplan, has as its teaser: “The curse of Macbeth … It brings fire! Death! Boring first dates!”

The premise for the film is a fun one: A nerdy Midwestern high school science teacher travels to Los Angeles to attempt to win back his ex-girlfriend who’s fled the relationship and her life as a drama teacher with dreams of becoming an actress. When the science teacher improbably finds himself cast as a witch in the same production of the Scottish Play in which his ex is playing Lady M, he mistakenly says the cursed M-word in front of the assembled cast. Disaster ensues.

Although the script is fluffy and full of tired thespian clichés from the crazy, bearded egomaniacal director to the campy gay acting couple, Never Say Macbeth has its heart in the right place. There’s something particularly lively about the scene in which ghosts from the theatre’s distant past all perform shows from a repertory season long ago – at one point, a trio of craggy witches from a1950s production of Macbeth find themselves improbably sharing the stage with characters from equally musty stagings of The Pirates of Penzance and The Importance of Being Earnest.

The film would probably appeal most strongly to a high school audience of students interested in becoming drama majors at college. There’s a cute love story at its center and some cartoonish special effects. The lead actor reminds me of The Office and 40-Year-Old Virgin star, Steve Carell.

But I personally found myself wishing that the movie could have been cleverer and more artfully created. From the grainy, lo-fi quality of the cinematography and the overly hammy performances to the hackneyed premise and cheesy jokes, Never Say Macbeth comes across as a bit amateurish. It’s sort of like a Summerstock theatre production on screen.

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