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Reviewed by Louise Hurrell for Readers' Favorite
After tackling A Midsummer Night’s Dream so successfully, Paul Leonard Murray turns his attention to Shakespeare’s tragedies, namely Macbeth. Most readers will already know the plot of ‘the Scottish play’; Macbeth and his ambitious wife scheme to murder King Duncan while he sleeps and be crowned king and queen. Whilst their plot is successful, the aftermath of the murder spells trouble for the couple. Shakespeare can often be viewed as inaccessible or difficult, which in turn puts people off reading his work. But with his series Silly Shakespeare for Students, Murray has done an excellent job of bringing the Bard’s stories to a brand-new audience.
Similar to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Murray has used rhyming couplets to tell the story of Macbeth. This helps to invoke the iambic pentameter the Bard favored; keeping the rhythm and flow of the original but making the meter more accessible. The dialogue as well has been updated, with all the characters using more modern language. Yet despite these changes, plus the more light-hearted comments made throughout the play, Murray has kept the core themes and ideas of Macbeth intact. In particular, the idea of power and the corruption of it is still a central point. The characters too don’t differ in terms of their personalities – yes, the words they use are very different, but the essence of their dialogue is in keeping with the Bard’s original work. Macbeth is a play I know very well, and I think Murray has done an amazing job of capturing the heart and soul of the story whilst updating it for modern readers and theatergoers. The Silly Shakespeare for Students series is a great way to introduce readers to Shakespeare, and I can’t wait to see what Murray reimagines next.