This is a very original way of retelling the Bard’s Scottish tragedy to a young audience of football fans. Macbeth is a member of the successful youth football team, Shotfield, but he harbours ambitions of reaching a much higher level. With the help of his disturbingly creepy mum, he finds a variety of ways to remove his rivals for the coveted position of player coach, and battles many inner demons along the way, too.
Certainly, readers will enjoy this story the most if they also have some familiarity with Shakespeare’s play. All the key themes from the play are present: Macbeth fights his battles on the football field and spills the blood of an opponent with a match-winning tackle; there is an eerie meeting with three mystifying strangers who forecast his future; and his mother has to do some serious kit-washing to tackle some ominous stains!
There is also much to enjoy for readers who do not already know the story of Macbeth. There is a great deal of intrigue to enjoy as the story unfolds, and children will recognise the friendship-fallouts and resulting chaos that Macbeth’s teammates suffer. Moreover, the football scenes are dramatically described and include the types of unsavoury foul play that would normally be omitted from children’s stories.
Children simply looking for a fun story about football will be surprised by the twists and turns in the story of Macbeth United and will question why the main character is willing to go to such extreme lengths just to be the captain. The book is a very good way to encourage readers to try something a little different and is an enjoyably original way of sharing Shakespeare’s work with children.