Coming Soon to a Theater near You!

Romeo and Juliet 2021

Two of Shakespeare’s most enduring and endearing tragedies are alive and well in 2021. Not one but two versions of two plays hit theaters this year. Famous for lines like “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and “Out, damned spot!” Neither play lacks for multiple versions but these new adaptations have some heady, minimalist attributes.

Starring Josh O’Conner of “The Crown” fame – he of the prominent ears, and Jessie Buckley (RADA graduate) recently seen in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” This well-reviewed National Theater filmed production (already released this spring on PBS) can be viewed in the USA by using the PBS viewing app. For more information about the production go HERE.

Arriving this fall from a man of mammoth influence comes Steven Spielberg’s remake of 1961’s “West Side Story”. It looks to be equally colorful though not filmed in Technicolor. Or is it? The name “Disney” is attached as well since they now own 20th Century Fox. Most people know that “West Side Story” is a brilliant adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Originally called “East Side Story”, the Broadway play was going to feature a conflict between the Jews and the Catholics. Slightly more Shakespearean than the Puerto Ricans vs. the Whites. The composer of the music, Leonard Bernstein, shared at the time that the score was deeply influenced by his Jewish heritage.

Regarding the man who would be king, we have two scintillating adaptations. Did you know it was bad luck to mention a certain Scottish Lord whose name begins with an “M” ? Let’s not take this Lord’s name in vain, especially since one of the movies is called Joji” and you can watch it on Amazon Prime.  The film is an Indian Malayalam-language, modern crime drama directed by Dileesh Pothan and written by Syam Pushkaran. The story admittedly inspired by that famously ambitious Scottish fellow.

The other Macbeth is written and directed by an unusually solo Joel Coen. It stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand  (Joel’s lauded wife). To be released a month before Halloween, perhaps it should be called “The Witches’ Play” as they three are certainly crowd-pleasing favorites whatever the production. In this one, one actress (Kathryn Hunter) plays all 3 witches! Genius film composer Carter Burwell did the music. McDormand, as authentic and no-nonsense as they come, is typecast in this role but she has more than earned the right to have a go at it.

Even if you can’t get to the theater in person, there should be a way to see all 4 of these films via streaming sources sooner that you might imagine. And the Bard (whomever he may be) lives on and on. What are your favorite Romeo & Juliet or Scottish Play adaptations? Please let us know in the comments below.