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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Joe Tyler Gold, Ilana Kira, Tammy Caplan, Tania Getty, Alexander Enberg
DIRECTED BY
C.J. Prouty
SCREENPLAY
Joe Tyler Gold
MPAA RATING
Equivalent of PG
RUNNING TIME
86 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Vanguard Cinema
 "Never Say MacBeth" Review 
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Never say Macbeth.
 
Ever.
 
Seriously. EVERY true theatre person knows about the curse of "Macbeth," and the vast majority take the curse quite seriously.
 
The centuries old legend is simple...those who utter the word "Macbeth" in the theatre will experience a dreadful curse.
 
Scoff if you will, but the truth is hard to deny and there exists centuries of evidence that such a curse is a reality.
 
In 1606, Shakespeare himself had to fill in for the role of Lady Macbeth when the young male actor who was supposed to play the role became ill with a fever and died.
 
In 1937, Laurence Olivier nearly died when a 25-pound stage weight crashed within an inch of him.
 
In 1942, John Gielgud directed a production of "Macbeth" in which three actors died during the run, and one of the designers committed suicide.
 
As recently as 1998, Alec Baldwin played Macbeth off-Broadway, and he sliced open the hand of the actor playing Macduff.
 
This film, "Never Say Macbeth," is itself said to be cursed as it is said to be bad luck to quote lines from Macbeth in another work. As a result, no fewer than 18 disasters occurred during the production of "Never Say Macbeth," ranging from break-ins to acts of vandalism to car accidents and personal injuries.
 
I repeat myself for your own good...NEVER say "Macbeth."
 
You should, however, be sure to check out "Never Say Macbeth" when it arrives on home video on August 26, 2008 courtesy of the folks at Vanguard Cinema.
 
Written by and starring Joe Tyler Gold, "Never Say Macbeth" is the story of a science teacher (Gold) who accidentally brings the dreaded curse upon his ex-girlfriend's play when he chases her down at an audition and unknowingly utters the word no actor should utter.
 
He must then battle the superstitious actors, an out-of-the-ordinary director and his own insecurities to win her back and, hopefully, overcome the curse.
 
"Never Say Macbeth" is the kind of independent film I love to watch. It's filled with imaginative screenwriting, talented actors who don't get swallowed up by the challenges of low-budget filmmaking and loads of heart and humor.
 
Largely self-funded by Gold and co-producer Tammy Caplan, who also appears in the film, "Never Say Macbeth" has the look and feel of a production brought together by the love and passion of the people who made it. Along with Gold's wonderful script, director C.J. Prouty, winner of a Student Emmy for Best Children's Program, coats "Never Say Macbeth" with the perfect blend of humor, wonder, mischief and heart.
 
Will you notice the film's low-budget? Quite honestly, yes. While the film is intelligently and sensitively written with mostly top-notch acting, Gold has also created a storyline that calls out for a variety of special effects including ghosts, falling lights, floating grapes and an assortment of tricky lighting and production set-ups. Unlike many filmmakers who seem to think they've defied the odds and produced a Spielbergian film on a budget under $10,000, Gold actually seems to have a grasp on reality. "Never Say Macbeth" wraps itself with a sort of cartoonish undertone that perfectly fits the film's more primitive special effects. From the production design to the marketing materials and even the DVD cover, "Never Say Macbeth" screams out "You're going to have a great time. Don't take everything so damn seriously."
 
If you can go with it, you WILL have a great time viewing "Never Say Macbeth."
 
Gold is spot-on perfect as Danny, the slightly nerdish science teacher more grounded in equations than emotions. When we start out with Danny, he seems not much more than an outcast from "Revenge of the Nerds," trying desperately to win back his distracted, starstruck girlfriend, Ruth (Ilana Kira). While Kira shines as Ruth, her relationship with Danny is less convincing. Perhaps owing to the fact that we're never given a chance to see the two prior to Ruth heading for Hollywood, the relationship always feels awkwardly uneven and it's difficult to fathom why Danny and Ruth would ever date in the first place and certainly why he'd travel all the way from Toledo, Ohio to track down this snooty and self-centered actress.
 
The chemistry is much more palpable and funny between Danny and Tamara (Tania Getty), a fellow castmember who completely believes in the curse. Beyond projecting an adorable sweetness that brought to mind Daphne from "Scooby-Doo" and her endless investigations, Getty infuses Tamara with a rich humanness that makes you believe she genuinely is helping Danny win back his girl even as the two are obviously falling for one another.
 
Tammy Caplan avoids caricature as Jeni (rhymes with "Jedi"), a Star Wars-loving techie, while Alexander Enberg ("Star Trek: Voyager") is appropriately psychotic as the play's zodiac-obsessed director. Mark Deklin, as the play's token star, cuts loose and evokes quite a few laughs, while the rest of the ensemble cast has quite a few moments to shine in a film that partly feels like a Christopher Guest mockumentary and  partly like a Kevin Smith low-budget buddy film.
 
Proof of the vast talent and creativity that exists in the world of independent cinema, "Never Say Macbeth" is a sweet, funny and entertaining romantic comedy that also skewers one of theatre's most widely held legends about the curse of "Macbeth." The combination of Gold's comic writing and Prouty's light director's touch work wonders with the film's uniformly strong ensemble cast.
 
Will you be cursed by watching "Never Say Macbeth?" I can't make any promises, but I do guarantee you'll be entertained.
 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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