Hey, it’s indie spotlight time! This one is called “Never Say Macbeth”, directed by Christopher J. Prouty. The title refers to a superstition among theater performers that believe it is just about the worst thing you can do to say the name “Macbeth” in a theater. To do so brings horrible bad luck to the production. An interesting fact is that this curse appeared to wreak havoc on the production of this film itself.
The premise is that Danny Teller (Joe Tyler Gold, also writing), is a high school science teacher. When his drama teacher girlfriend, Ruth, breaks up with him and moves to Los Angeles to become an actress, Joe can’t leave well enough alone. He goes to L.A. and finds her at a theater where she is performing in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. At the auditions the director mistakes Danny’s story of love as a passionate acting monologue and casts him as witch # 1. Danny, more a science nerd than anything, struggles with rehearsals and incurs the wrath of the cast after uttering the word “Macbeth” in the theater. That’s when the weird stuff starts happening, like lights falling from the rafters, moving objects and ghosts appearing as characters from other Shakespeare plays. Danny, ever the scientist, decides he needs to find a way to stop the weirdness.
Sometimes while watching this, especially early on, I felt almost like I had to have some knowledge of theater to in on some of what appeared to be jokes. At the same time, I was acutely aware that many of the characters were stereotyped theater people; the two clearly gay actors, the one guy named “Vinnie” who was from where? Based on the accent, New York City. And there was the eccentric director who was clearly more than a little full of himself.
However, one of the great stand outs was the stage manager, a woman that was rather obsessed with Star Wars and wore a dual-bunned wig looking just like Princess Leia’s hair. She, among all the actors, got too little screen time. She was funny and I wanted to see more of her.
Quite frankly, the first 35 minutes of this was a little off. It felt like people didn’t quite have their characters down or were a little green as actors. And any attempt, or what I perceived as an attempt, at humor was poorly timed or just not funny enough. But I stuck it out, and I think I recall that at about 36 or 37 minutes in, I laughed out loud. And I believe it was something the Star Wars girl did. Like I said, she was a funny character.
However, now that I had stuck it out I started to get more caught up in the characters and the notion that this theater was haunted/cursed by the word “Macbeth” being spoken. For a low budget film the ghost effects were effective enough, though the situations were sometimes goofily off tone.
There were some funny moments with various actors possessed by ghosts that were nicely done with an air of manic wackiness. The cast is likeable and as time went on, drew me in. In the end, this is a fair little independent film. As Prouty’s first directorial feature, I’d say nicely done. And as Gold’s first writing endeavor other than one “Fartman” episode for Howard Stern on Demand, well, let’s just hope he continues to write more things like this. The quality can only improve. Hey, I’m no snob, but “Fartman“? Really? I just never saw the humor in it. Maybe it’s because I’m not 14 years old anymore?
–Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, choosing Shakespeare to Fartman any day.