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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Reviews of Scotland, PA
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0381  Friday, 8 February 2002

[1]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Feb 2002 14:06:35 -0500
        Subj:   A New 'Macbeth,' Droll and Deep Fried

[2]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 09:19:46 -0500
        Subj:   Review of Scotland, PA


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 7 Feb 2002 14:06:35 -0500
Subject:        A New 'Macbeth,' Droll and Deep Fried

February 3, 2002

By JAMIE MALANOWSKI

SELDOM is an ice cream stand pinpointed as the swamp from which great
art slithers. Yet as Billy Morrissette, the writer and director of the
new comedy "Scotland, PA." recalls it, it was there, more than two
decades ago, when he was a mere high schooler working at the Dairy Queen
in South Windsor, Conn., that it first occurred to him to transpose the
grisly Shakespeare tragedy "Macbeth" from the wilds of medieval Scotland
to the seemingly less treacherous landscape of a fast food restaurant in
Nowhere, U.S.A.

"I remember just babbling to friends - because I had just read `Macbeth'
in school - 'Wouldn't it be great to place this in a fast food
restaurant?' " said Mr. Morrissette, his babble having slowed now to a
pleasantly speedy spiel.  "Because everybody's name around me seemed to
begin with Mc or Mac. I just kept hearing Mac everywhere." There is a
slightly plaintive quality in his voice when he adds, "Nobody cared."

A couple of years ago, however, Mr. Morrissette, by then in Los Angeles,
a bit-part actor ("For the Boys," "National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation")
driving from audition to audition, heard references to the play on the
radio on successive days. "There I was," he said, "an angry, bitter
actor, and I said, `I should buy a computer, and write this crazy idea
from high school.' So I did. And it was really fun."

Fun to write and fun to watch. It's amusing to see the lordly Duncan
transformed into the owner of a burger joint; to see the stalwart
Macbeth portrayed as Mac, the restaurant's best worker, complete with a
white paper server's cap; to watch Mac and his foxy wife murder Duncan
in the deep fat fryer and snatch control of the restaurant from Duncan's
wholly uninterested sons. Even without the fine hand of the Bard guiding
the story line, "Scotland, PA.," which opens on Friday, would be a droll
send-up of small-town life.

The film catches the ambitions and frustrations of people whose horizons
are all uncomfortably near, and instead of playing those feelings for
pathos, torques them up into murderous impulses. Most impressively, Mr.
Morrissette manages to establish and maintain a tone that at once
parodies Shakespeare while being true to the turbulent small-timers he's
satirizing. It's a good trick to write a five-minute parody for
"Saturday Night Live"; it's quite another achievement to keep the
souffl

 

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