A RADICAL reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies that puts Macbeth in London in the midst of the 1980s financial crisis is coming to Worthing’s Connaught Theatre next weekend.

Black Monday may not seem like an obvious location for the story of a man’s rise to and fall from the throne of Scotland, but director Mary Swan says that her first inspiration for the adaptation came from reading Michael Lewis’ book Liar’s Poker, which describes the author’s experiences as a bond salesman in the late Eighties.

“The book shows the traders acting as if they were above the law, struggling for power, as if they were lords. That was when I thought there might be something here.”

This dangerous attitude is not the only connection that Swan has found between Shakespeare’s storm-filled classic and the 1987 financial crisis.

“People don’t realise the effect that a storm had on the financial crisis,” says Swan. “It prevented lots of stockbrokers from going into London, and so when the markets started crashing in Asia, people weren’t there to react.”

By reimagining the play in the midst of the “greed is good” culture of the 1980s, Swan is inviting her audience to draw comparisons to the world of today.

“To create an exciting and contemporary physical production that speaks to audiences today, we have set the play in 1987 to discuss, through the prism of history, how Thatcher’s Britain and Reaganomics created our modern political and economic landscape.”

The adaptation intends to bring Shakespeare to an audience whose only real contact with the old bard is dreaded secondary school English lessons.

“I have teenage children and I know how some people just don’t connect to the texts,” Swan. “By having the staging in the modern day, we hope to bring the text to people, particularly young people, who have not been able to actually enjoy Shakespeare before.”

In the same vein as other modernising Shakespeare adaptations like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, Swan’s Macbeth retains the original script in its entirety. Some necessary updates have been made for the play though. The witches are present but have been reimagined as drug dealers, providing the material for Macbeth’s prophesies (at a price), while all of the apparition scenes take place in the upstairs room of a nightclub as Macbeth’s grasp on reality is slipping.

“It’s definitely a Marmite show,” said Swan jovially. “People either love it or they don’t.”