Apr 252011

Juggler readers interested in a very good, decidedly non-conventional Macbeth may well wish to check out this 2006 Australian film adaptation by Geoffrey Wright. Reconceptualized as a modern mobster drama, Shakespeare’s script works astonishingly well as a tale of Sopranos-style warfare and betrayal. (Like Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet  and McKellen’s Richard III, this film demonstrates the Bard’s universal quality, as he is re-imagined so readily into contemporary settings of crime families and fascistic dictators.) Wright’s movie is also interesting for catching Sam Worthington just before he became famous for Avatar and Clash of the Titans (Macbeth, by the way, gives him much more room to show that he is a good actor than, say, Clash did). Mr. Worthington’s sexiness plays agreeably well throughout, as he makes an attractive partner to Victoria Hill’s very sexy Lady Macbeth; a Scottish couple (well, Australian) who can captivate the audience with their sexual charms as they captivate each other, exciting through their physical beauty and appalling through their amorality, makes for a very dynamic show.

Part of Wright’s thinking (as well) seems to have been, the Scottish Play meets The Craft. The Witches (or Wyrrd Sisters, as the script calls them) are presented here as seriously rebellious Catholic school-girls. We first meet them as they vandalize a graveyard (note: there is nothing in Shakespeare’s text about the Witches assaulting edifices of Christianity; one of the play’s unique qualities is its general “paganness” and lack of interest in Christianity). Later the Trio will trip on Ecstasy and engage in (I guess, underage) fornication with Macbeth- an interesting Macbeth, that has the Thane actually “getting it on” with the Witches, teenagers though they appear to be. (Few productions imagine sex between the Scottish King and the Weird Sisters, although the idea of their supernatural encounters as perceived through a fog of hallucinogens has been standard since Polanski’s movie in the early 70s.)

The more overt displays of Witchery, in this version, are interestingly saved for the fiend-like Lady. (Ms. Macbeth is a part written with “Witchy” subtext to it, starting with her speech to “Spirits that tend on Mortal thoughts” [I.v.40], which is generally believed to have been inspired by Medea in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.) Wearing Witch-like garb, praying to the Full Moon, and grinding up sleeping pills in a mortar with a pestle- Victoria Hill’s Mobster-Queen is easily as Witchy as the Three Corrupt School-Girls in this Australian Hit-Man Macbeth.