IN 2017, Dominic Hill, the celebrated artistic director of Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, created an acclaimed truncation of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play”. Titled The Macbeths, it was an intense, two-handed studio version of the Bard’s Caledonian opus.

Boasting the exceptional pairing of Charlene Boyd and Keith Fleming, as Lady Macbeth and her regicidist husband, Hill’s new version of the play was performed in modern dress. Set in the late-20th century, it combined the public politics of Shakespeare’s drama with the overwhelming grief of a couple who have lost a child in infancy.

In 2018, with the Citizens Theatre closed for its major redevelopment (which is still on-going in 2021), Hill took a second incarnation of his adaptation on the road. This time, the superb Lucianne McEvoy played the king killer opposite Boyd’s Lady M.

Now, with our theatres still closed against the Covid plague, the director has made a third version of The Macbeths. Returning to the original cast of Boyd and Fleming, Hill has made the piece as a film.

It is an exciting project. Located on and around the couple’s bed, the play is a potent, almost claustrophobic portrayal of two human beings in conditions of absolute psychological collapse.

Potential audiences for the movie (which begins streaming online on June 3) can be reassured that Hill sees this incarnation of his play very much as a new, screened work of art. It will be not be merely a stage play that has been set in front of video cameras.

“At the Citz, we are well known for re-imagining classic plays and I’m excited to return to this production and adapt it again for [the] screen,” Hill says. “Playing with camera techniques, we hope to encapsulate the raw emotions of the couple and the dark, sleepless nightmare they are in.”

One of the aspects of Shakespeare’s play that tends to be underplayed, but which Hill gives proper prominence, is the Macbeths’ loss of their only child. Typically, when Lady M says, “I have given suck, and know/How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me”, it is treated as a bit of rhetoric in her persuading Macbeth to murder the King.

Hill realises, however, that the death of the child weighs heavily in the relationship between Macbeth and his wife. For Boyd, this is extremely important.

“I see a woman on the edge of utter desperation,” the actor says. “She’s grieving, she is broken and she is completely alone. She’s at rock bottom.”

When Macbeth comes to Lady M with the witches’ prophecy of kingship, Boyd observes, it gives her “a reason to live”. The emphasis that Hill’s play places upon Lady M, she continues, “makes you realise how underwritten complex women are” in most drama.

For his part, Fleming believes it’s crucial that the piece has been remade “as a film, rather than just a theatre piece that’s been filmed”. Re-envisioning the drama as a movie gave the company another medium in which to explore a play that “looks at the human condition”.

“It looks at PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. I think Shakespeare was brilliant in the way that he understood psychology so far ahead of his time.

“He understood how human beings react to things like guilt and the consequences of their actions,” Fleiming adds.

When I reviewed the original staging of Hill’s adaptation for the Sunday Herald in 2017, I wrote: “this is Shakespeare’s play delivered in powerfully concentrated form, as if straight into the bloodstream.”

The remaking of the play as a film is a tantalising prospect indeed.

Free tickets for The Macbeths can be booked via the Citizens Theatre website: