Review by Bob Greene
Shakespeare has been modernized time and time again. The trick is to find a place where the Bard’s tales can fit. Edward Gusts found just the place for the savage Macbeth – where savagery is still allowed. That’s right, the boardroom. STAINED takes us into the offices of John Macbeth.
Simple and realistic, STAINED tells the story of underappreciated executive John Macbeth and his wife, Jane, who hides the actual extent to which she is grieving over the loss of her child. The first fright is how easily the Sahkespeaqren tale of the soldier who gets help from hell to be king can fit in the modern corporate american world. The next is how logical writer Gusts and director Joston Theney translate demon-driven cravings into business ambition. The rest belongs to clever performances.
Writer Gusts takes on the lead role as a brilliant but timid businessman pushed aside for promotion after promotion only to [accidentally?] terminate his boss, Greg Duncan, played with ultra-vigor by director Theney. Their eventual powerful and truly frightening confrontation almost comes out of nowhere but leads to a series of events that are as unnerviong as they are realistic.
Interesting touches like instead of killing MacDuff’s child, the Macbeths take him for their own and lady Jane M’s madness seems to be a bi-polar condition thats ends her into fits of murder and erotism. Gaunbt and bug-eyed, fellow writer, Ariel Braxhefield, plays the Mrs. with so much realistic agony that one might feel sorry for her – even when a killing spree (usually leading to sex) gets the better of her.
While one might smirk and see this as a “family affair” with the writers and directors handling the leads, one cannot help but feel how this internal touch allows the plot and characters to be crystal clear and the deep understanding of the source material was – like any board mkeeting discussion – a majority vote.
Keeping the original names of the characters (Mr & Mrs. Macbeth; boss Duncan; Detective MacDuff; business colleague Maggie Banquo; and that lovely couple, the Seytons) allows Sahskepare aficionados to chuckle lightly and get into the piece quickly while those unaware just think the script writers were imaginative.
If you’re looking for a good slasher film, go watch one of the Friday, the 13ths. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller that goes the extra mile, get STAINED.
Bob Greene, a former writer at Newsday, retired to a life of reviewing Off & Off-Off Broadway, but until they return he is feeding a secret passion for genre films.
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