A couple of Irishmen are trying to popularise Shakespeare by staging a modern version of the Scottish play. MacBecks is the story of a young lad in Elizabethan England who dreams of becoming the first pretty-boy footballer in a sport dominated by snaggletooths and wobblebottoms. Three scheming spice-witches rustle up a cauldron of perfumes and aphrodisiacs to cast a spell on the boy, enabling him to dance around his opponents like a twinkle-toed fairy. The spice-witch Poshoria then seduces MacBecks and presents him with a squirming litter of Becklings. The family migrate to the undiscovered continent of America, where they acquire fabulous riches by selling soccer-beads to the gullible natives.
It’s nice to see a Shakespearian tragedy rewritten with a happy ending, but I doubt it will be a hit. The common trait of all the Bard’s characters was their incontinent verbosity – even the stupid ones prattled on at great length about the most minor issues. The contrast with the Spice-Becks interaction could scarcely be greater. They are probably the first celebrity couple to have tied the knot without exchanging more than half-a-dozen coherent sentences. This isn’t meant to be a criticism, mind you. We of the jungle know what can be achieved with facial expressions and scent markings. I should imagine Victoria’s sultry pout told Becks everything he needed to know as he trotted off the football pitch, exuding his manly odours.
A better vehicle for the Becks story would have been a new version of Pygmalion called My Fair Laddie. The plot might go something like this:
Victoria Spice, professor of celebritology, has the world at her feet: crowds of photographers flock to take her picture when she poses in expensive yet gaudy evening gowns. Then she has a chance meeting with Becks, a ball-kicking yobbo whose dress sense is limited to tracksuits, trainers and hooded jackets. “I bet you I can turn this ragamuffin into a fashion icon that will fool the world,” she boasts to her Spice sisters. She takes Becks under her wing and dresses him in fancy clothes, teaching him to smile like a ninny for the cameras. Sure enough, his picture appears in all the glossiest celebrity magazines. But Becks was much happier kicking balls and gives the posh professor an ultimatum: “If you want me to keep doing this you better let me shag you cos it’s the only reason I let you dress me up like a poofter.” So they marry, have kids and con gullible Americans into giving them sackfuls of cash. The End.
It must be said that Shakespeare has never been popular in the Mother Continent. Most of his characters are simply too camp for a land where Nature, red in tooth and claw, is prowling about in your back garden. The only one of his plays that has wide appeal among the hairy fraternity is The Taming of the Shrew, purely because it’s about a hot-headed minx who gives people a good wallop when provoked. Fiery little women are a great simian favourite – most gorillas would love to keep one as a pet if they could afford the cosmetics and toiletries. Who would be the shrew in a modern version of the play? The Icelandic pixie Bjork obviously has the right personality, but did anyone ever manage to tame her? And Liz Hurley has certainly been tamed, but was she ever really a shrew? Artistic endeavour is full of such dilemmas.
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