Shakespeare For White Trash: Macbeth

September 29, 2010

 (Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — )

Main characters

Macbeth — a Scottish general, Thane of Glamis

Lady Macbeth — his wife

Duncan — King of Scotland

Malcolm, Donalbain — Duncan’s sons

Banquo — another general

Fleance — son of Banquo

Macduff — a noble

Lady Macduff — his wife

Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness — other nobles

Siward — Earl of Northumberland

Young Siward — his son

Leyton — officer to Macbeth (Shakespeare uses the name Seyton, but I’ve changed it so the audience doesn’t hear it as “Satan.”)

Three Witches

Gist of the story: Macbeth, a Scottish general, is given a prophecy by three witches that he will someday be King.  His ambitious wife pushes him to make the prophecy come true by murdering the King and pinning it on the King’s drunken guards.  The King’s sons flee the country and are soon joined by other lords who also fear for their lives.  The fugitives assemble an army in England and return to Scotland to get rid of Macbeth.  Macbeth believes he cannot be harmed because of another prophecy given to him by the witches, but there is a loophole in it.  One noble, Macduff, can kill Macbeth, and he does.  (These days, if you hear someone refer to a woman as “Lady Macbeth,” they’re implying that she’s cold-blooded and ruthlessly ambitious.)

Act 1, Scene 1.  An open place.  Thunder and lightning.  Three Witches come in.

First Witch: When are we going to meet up?

Second Witch: After the battle.

First Witch: Where?

Second Witch: In the shrubbery.

Third Witch: That’s where we’ll meet Macbeth.

First Witch: I have to go home and feed my cat.

Second Witch: I have to feed my toad.

Third Witch: Okay, sisters, see you later.

    (They depart, singing.)

All Three: Oh, we’re witches…and we love this kind of weather ’cause we’re witches…yes, we’re witches…and we love the stinky air because we’re witches…oh, we’re witches….

Act 1, Scene 2.  A camp near a battlefield.  King Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Lennox, and attendants (guards) meet a wounded captain.

King: Who’s this?

Malcolm: He’s one of our guys.  He helped save me….Man, you are the best!  Tell the King what happened.

Captain: We were fighting with that rebel bastard Macdonwald.  It looked like he was going to win, but then Macbeth showed up in the nick of time and hacked his soldiers to pieces, and then he cut his damned head off.

King: Wow!  That’s my general!  What a hero!

Captain: Wait, there’s more.  We had the rebels on the run, but then the Norwegians regrouped and attacked us again.

King: Did Macbeth and Banquo fight them off?

Captain: There was an awful battle.  I don’t know how it turned out….Ohh…I’m hurt bad.

King: You’re a good soldier….Get this guy to the medics.  (Captain is helped off by attendants.  Then Ross and Angus arrive.)

Ross: God save the King!

King: Ross, where ya been?

Ross: I’ve just come from Fife.  The Norwegians were in control, thanks to that goddamn traitor, the Thane of Cawdor.  But Macbeth attacked them, and finally we won.

King: Excellent!

Ross: The King of Norway wants to make peace.  We wouldn’t let him bury his dead until he shelled out ten thousand dollars.

King: Fine.  And so much for the Thane of Cawdor.  He’s to be executed at once.  Macbeth will be the new Thane of Cawdor.

Ross: I’ll see to it.

King: He deserves the reward.

Act 1, Scene 3.  A heath (shrubland).  Thunder.  The Three Witches come in.

First Witch: Where ya been?

Second Witch: Killing pigs.

Third Witch (to First): How about you?

First Witch: A sailor’s wife had some chestnuts, and when I asked her to give me some, she told me to fuck off.  So I put a curse on her husband to die.

Third Witch: That’ll teach her to respect visible minorities.

    (Sound of drums.)

First Witch: That’ll be Macbeth.

    (Macbeth and Banquo come in.)

Macbeth: What a day!

Banquo: Who the hell are these freakin’ ugly bitches?

First Witch: Hail, Macbeth,Thane of Glamis!

Second Witch: Hail, Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor!

Third Witch: Hail, Macbeth, our next King!

Banquo: Hey, what about me?

Third Witch: Your children will be kings.

Macbeth: Wait a minute.  I’m the Thane of Glamis, all right.  But how can I be the Thane of Cawdor, too?  After all, he’s alive and well.  And as for being King, that’s ridiculous.  Unless you know something I don’t.

    (Witches vanish in a puff of smoke.)

Banquo: What the fuck?  Did you see that?

Macbeth: Holy shit.  And just when it was getting interesting.  Your children will be kings, Banquo.

Banquo: And you’re going to be King.

Macbeth: And Thane of Cawdor.

    (Ross and Angus arrive.)

Ross: Hey, Macbeth, we heard what you did to those fucking Norwegians.  Everybody’s talking about it.  And the King is so happy, he’s making you the new Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth: What happened to the old one?

Angus: He’s going to be executed for treason.

Macbeth: Wow!  That’s great news!  (Aside to Banquo)  Those witches told me I’d be Thane of Cawdor, and now I am.  And your children will be kings.

Banquo (Aside to Macbeth): Don’t get any big ideas about being King.  There could be something evil at work here.

Macbeth (Aside to Banquo): Good or evil, who cares?  If I’m destined to be King, I sure as hell ain’t gonna complain about it.

Banquo: Yeah, well, let’s get going.

Macbeth: Right.  The King’s waiting for us.  (Aside to Banquo)  We need to talk about this prophecy stuff later.

Banquo: Yeah.

    (All leave.)

Act 1, Scene 4.  The palace at Forres.  Fanfare.  King Duncan, Lennox, Malcolm, Donalbain, and attendants come in.

King: Has Cawdor been executed yet?

Malcolm: Yes.  Right at the end, he confessed to treason and said he was sorry.

King: You know, I trusted that guy absolutely.

    (Macbeth, Banquo, Ross, and Angus arrive.)

King: Macbeth!  I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done.

Macbeth: It’s an honor to serve your Majesty.

King: Both of you guys — you and Banquo — are definitely moving up in the world, if you get my drift.

Banquo: We do it all for you, your Majesty — now and forever.

King: As you know, Malcolm here will succeed me as King someday.  And today I’m giving him the title of Prince of Cumberland.  And you, Macbeth, are now the Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth: Wow!  Wait till my wife hears this!  You’ll come for dinner, I hope.

King: You bet.

Macbeth (Aside): The Prince of Cumberland stands between me and the throne….Supposing that…no, I shouldn’t even be thinking about it.  (To King)  I’ve got to get going.  (He leaves.)

King: You know, I sure am proud of that guy, Banquo.  Come on, let’s go.  You can escort me to Macbeth’s house.  (They leave.)

Act 1, Scene 5.  Macbeth’s castle at Inverness.  Macbeth’s wife come in with a letter.

Lady Macbeth (Reading letter): “Good news!  Some witches predicted I’d be Thane of Cawdor, and now I am!  And guess what?  They also predicted I’d be King!  Isn’t that great?”…King!  Yes, you could be King, all right, if only you weren’t so good and moral.  We’re going to have a little talk about that when you get home. 

    (Messenger arrives.)

Messenger: Madam, the King’s coming to dinner.

Lady Macbeth: What?  My husband didn’t tell me!  I’ve got to get everything ready.

Messenger: Your husband’s on his way, madam.

Lady Macbeth: Okay, fine.  (Messenger leaves.)  This is too good to be true.  The King…right here under our roof….Now I gotta get psyched up to be totally fucking evil.  All you evil spirits, I’m your girl now!  Satan, make me Queen of Hell!  (Singing and snapping fingers)  I’m gonna be Satan’s girlfriend…I’m gonna be the Queen of Hell….(Macbeth comes in.)  Glamis!  Cawdor!  And very soon to be King!

Macbeth: The King’s coming to dinner, and he’s going to stay overnight.

Lady Macbeth: Yeah, but he’ll never leave here alive.

Macbeth: Oh!…You don’t mean….That is….I didn’t really intend–

Lady Macbeth: Look, just do what I tell you.  You just act nice and normal and friendly.

Macbeth: Well…my dear….Don’t you think we should talk this over?

Lady Macbeth: What for?  You got a prophecy, didn’t you?  That means it’s already settled.  And I do so much want to be Queen.  So you just put on a happy face and leave the thinking to me.

Act 1, Scene 6.  Before Macbeth’s castle.  The King, Malcolm, Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus, and attendants.

King: Nice place.  Wonder what they paid for it. 

Banquo: Cover your head, my lord.  There’s about a million pigeons on the roof.

    (Lady Macbeth meets the guests.)

King: Lady Macbeth.  Long time no see.  Thanks for feeding us on such short notice.

Lady Macbeth: It’s no trouble at all.  We’re having meat loaf.

King: Wonderful.  Where’s your husband?

Lady Macbeth: He’s just changing his shirt.  Come on in, everybody.

    (All leave.)

Act 1, Scene 7.  In the castle.  Servants cross the stage, implying service between the kitchen and dining hall.  Macbeth stands by himself.

Macbeth: I suppose if we’re going to go through with this, we might as well get it over with as soon as possible.  But  it’s such a terrible thing to do.  To murder my own King while he’s a guest in my house.  Everyone loves him.  He’s a good King.  And he’s been good to me.  I don’t think I have it in me to murder him, no matter how much I’d love to be King.

    (Lady Macbeth comes in.)

Lady Macbeth: There you are.  Why did you leave the dining hall?  He’s almost finished eating.

Macbeth: Has he asked for me?

Lady Macbeth: What do you think?

Macbeth: Please, let’s call it off.  I just can’t do it.

Lady Macbeth: What’s the matter with you?  Don’t you have the balls?  If you love me, you’ll do it.

Macbeth: Stop it!

Lady Macbeth: You wanted to be King, didn’t you?  Okay, so here’s the perfect opportunity.  We won’t get a better one.

Macbeth: But what if something should go wrong?

Lady Macbeth: Nothing will go wrong if you just screw up your courage and do it.  I’ve got it all figured out.  When the King is asleep, I’ll get his two chamberlains so drunk, they’ll be out cold.  Once they’re asleep, we can kill the King and make it look like they did it.

Macbeth: So we’ll use their dagggers, is that it?

Lady Macbeth: Exactly.  And when the body is discovered, we’ll put on a good act like we’re horrified, and then you’ll find the bloody daggers on the drunken chamberlains, and you’ll kill them while they’re still sleeping.  Then we can blame it on them.  It’ll look obvious.  Nobody will question it. 

Macbeth: All right, then.  We’ll just have to be convincing.

Act 2, Scene 1.  Banquo and Fleance are in the courtyard of Macbeth’s castle at night.  Fleance holds a torch.  Macbeth arrives with a servant, also holding a torch.

Banquo: Still up, eh?  The King’s gone to bed.  He was really happy tonight.  He brought you some nice presents, and he gave your wife a diamond. 

Macbeth: We should have served steak.  But the meat loaf went over well.

Banquo: The witches were right about you becoming Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth: I want to talk to you about that sometime.

Banquo: Whenever.  We’re off to bed.  Goodnight.

Macbeth: Goodnight.

    (Banquo and Fleance leave.)

Macbeth (to servant): Tell my wife to ring the bell when my, uh, drink is ready.  (Servant leaves.)

    (Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air before him.)

Macbeth: Oh, fucking bloody hell….I’m seeing a dagger….It’s hanging in mid-air….Oh, my fucking brain….What are you doing?…This can’t be real….(Tries to grasp the dagger but can’t.)  Ohhhh…There’s blood on it….That’s blood, all right….Oh, my God…Yeah…I know…I know….I’m going to murder the King….There’s no backing out now…(A bell rings.)  That’s my signal.  (He leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 2.  In Macbeth’s castle.  Lady Macbeth alone.

Lady Macbeth: The King’s attendants are out cold.  I drugged their wine.  God, I’m so excited!  What’s taking Mac so long?  He should have done it by now.

    (Macbeth comes in.)

Macbeth: It’s done.

Lady Macbeth: I thought I heard voices.

Macbeth: Malcolm and Donalbain woke up in the second bedroom, but they went right back to sleep.  I feel sick about this.

Lady Macbeth: Don’t think about it.  Think about being King.

Macbeth: I heard a strange voice saying “Macbeth shall sleep no more.”

Lady Macbeth: It’s just your nerves.  Get a grip on yourself.  Wash your hands.  You’ve got blood on them.  And get rid of those daggers, for chrissake!  Put them in the attendants’ room and make sure you get the blood on them.

Macbeth: I can’t.  I just can’t.

Lady Macbeth: Wimp!  Give them to me.  I’ll put them there myself.  (She takes the daggers and leaves.  Then a knock is heard.  Macbeth jumps.)

Macbeth: Fuck!  What was that?  I can’t stop shaking!

    (Lady Macbeth returns.)

Lady Macbeth: That’s taken care of.  (Another knock is heard.)  Somebody’s knocking at the south door.  Quick!  We have to change into our nightgowns so it doesn’t look like we’ve been up all this time.  (She leaves.)

Macbeth: I can’t believe what I’ve done.  (Another knock.)  Fuck me.  (He leaves.)

Act 2, Scene 3.  At Macbeth’s castle.  A porter is answering the door.  Knocking is heard.

Porter: Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.  (Knocking.)  Who the fuck would show up at six in the morning?  (Knocking.)  Probably some homeless bastard who thinks a liberal lives here.  (Opens door.  Macduff and Lennox come in.)

Macduff: Sleeping late, were you?

Porter: Oh, we were all up late having a good time and getting rather drunk, sir.

Macduff: Is the boss up yet?  (Macbeth comes in.)  Ah, there he is.

Macbeth: Hey, good morning, guys.

Macduff: Is the King up yet?  He told me to call on him early.

Macbeth: I think he’s still sleeping.  I’ll go check.

Macduff: No, that’s okay.  I’ll go wake him up.  He’s expecting me.  (Macduff leaves.)

Lennox: What a night it was!  We had such an awful windstorm.  There was a lot of damage in my neighborhood.  And some people said there was an earth tremor, too.  It had to be the worst damn night in my whole life.

Macbeth: Yes, I think I know what you mean.

    (Macduff returns in a panic.)

Macduff: Oh, shit!  The King is dead!  He’s been murdered!  (Macbeth and Lennox rush out.)  Everybody up!  Wake up!  Ring the alarm bell!   Come on, wake up!

    (Bell rings.  Lady Macbeth comes in.)

Lady Macbeth: What’s going on?  Is something wrong?

Macduff: Oh, madam, I can’t bear to tell you.  (Banquo rushes in.)  Banquo!  The King’s been murdered!

Lady Macbeth: Oh, my God!

Banquo: Oh, no!

    (Macbeth, Lennox, and Ross come in.)

Macbeth: I wish I’d never lived to see this day.

    (Malcolm and Donalbain come in.)

Donalbain: What’s happening?

Macduff: Your father’s been murdered!

Malcolm: Oh, by who?  I mean, by whom?

Lennox: It looks like the attendants did it.  We found the bloody daggers on them.  They were dead, too.

Macbeth: I killed them.

Macduff: You killed them?

Macbeth: After what they did to the King, of course I killed them.  I was so angry, I couldn’t control myself.  Anyone in my place would’ve done the same thing.

Lady Macbeth: I think I’m going to faint!

Malcolm (Aside to Donalbain): What do you think?

Donalbain (Aside to Malcolm): I don’t know.  I think we should just get out of here.

    (Lady Macbeth is carried out.)

Banquo: Gentlemen, we’re going to get to the bottom of this.  I think there’s more to this dirty business than meets the eye.

Macduff: Yes, I agree.

Others: Yes.  Yes.

Macbeth: I suggest we meet in the hall.  (All leave, except for Malcolm and Donalbain.)

Malcolm: I’m not hanging around for any damned meeting.  I’m going to England.

Donalbain: We should split up.  I’ll go to Ireland instead.

Malcolm: Forget about saying goodbye to them.  Let’s just get out now. 

    (They leave.)

Act 2, Scene 4.  Ross is outside Macbeth’s castle when Macduff arrives.

Ross: Well, did you figure out who killed the King?

Macduff: The attendants did it — the ones Macbeth killed.

Ross: Why would they do such a thing?

Macduff: We figure they were bribed by Malcolm and Donalbain, because the two of them cut out when the King’s body was found.

Ross: Ain’t that something?  I never would have expected that in a million years.  Well, I guess that puts Macbeth in line for the throne.

Macduff: He’s already been chosen.

Ross: You going to Scone?

Macduff: No, Fife.

Ross: I’m going to Scone.

Macduff: Have a good trip.

Ross: You, too.

    (Both leave.)

Act 3, Scene 1.  The palace at Forres.  Banquo alone.

Banquo: It all came true for Macbeth, just like the witches predicted.  I just wonder about him, though.  I’m starting to get suspicious.  And as for me, I’m supposed to be the father of future kings.  Well, I suppose that’s something to hope for.

    (Trumpet call.  Macbeth as King, Lady Macbeth as Queen, Lennox, Ross, Lords, and attendants come in.)

Macbeth: Here’s our good buddy Banquo.  Hey, we’re having a big dinner tonight.  Sort of a celebration for me becoming King, you know.  You’re invited, of course.  We’re doing barbecue ribs — your favorite.

Banquo: I can hardly wait.

Macbeth: Going out riding later?

Banquo: Yeah.

Macbeth: We missed you at today’s council meeting, but I trust you’ll be there tomorrow.  Where you riding to?

Banquo: Nowhere special.  I just need a long ride to clear my head.

Macbeth: Don’t miss dinner.

Banquo: I won’t.

Macbeth: I hear that Malcolm and Donalbain are hiding out in England and Ireland, and they’re spreading a lot of lies about me.  I want to talk to you about that tomorrow.

Banquo: Yeah, for sure.  See you later.  (He leaves.)

Macbeth: Now I need to be alone, you guys, okay?  See you at dinner.  (Everyone leaves except for one attendant.)  Are there some guys waiting to see me?

Attendant: Yes, my lord.  They’re outside the palace gate.

Macbeth: Bring them in.  (Attendant leaves.)  Banquo’s going to be a problem.  He’s a tough son of a bitch, and he’s not stupid.  The witches said his children would be kings.  I have no children.  So what the hell did I murder Duncan for — to put Banquo’s children on the throne? 

    (The attendant returns with two murderers and then leaves.)

Macbeth: Remember what I told you guys yesterday?  I explained to you how Banquo was the cause of all your problems, how he screwed you and treated you like morons.

First Murderer: Yeah.

Macbeth: I gave you a day to think it over.  So?  Do you want to get even, or don’t you?

First Murderer: Hell, yes.  My life is so totally fucked I don’t care what happens to me any more.

Second Murderer: Same with me.  I’m so angry and frustrated I can’t take it any more.  I’m ready to kill someone.

Macbeth: Banquo’s your enemy.  And he’s my enemy, too.  But there’s no way I can get rid of him myself, even if I am King.  My friends are his friends, too.  So I need you guys to help me out.

First Murderer: We’ll do anything you say.

Macbeth: It’s got to be done tonight.  He’ll be with his son, Fleance.  You’ve got to kill him, too.  I’ll tell you where to wait for them.  It’s got to be a clean job.  No cock-ups. 

Murderers: Right.

Macbeth: Then it’s settled.  You wait for me inside.  I’ll come and see you shortly. 

    (All leave.)

Act 3, Scene 2.  The palace.  Lady Macbeth and a servant.

Lady Macbeth: Is Banquo gone?

Servant: Yes, madam, but he’s coming back tonight.

Lady Macbeth: Tell the King I need to speak to him.  (Servant leaves.  Shortly thereafter, Macbeth comes in.)  Mac, why are you keeping to yourself?  People will get suspicious.

Macbeth: Look, we’re not free and clear of this business as long as Banquo is around.  I’m going to have to do something about him.

Lady Macbeth: Like what?

Macbeth: Don’t ask.  It’ll all be over by tonight.

Act 3, Scene 3.  Near the palace.  Three murderers.

First Murderer: Who brought you in on this?

Third Murderer: Macbeth, of course.

Second Murderer: It’s okay.  Three are better than two.

First Murderer: Those guys should have been here by now.

Third Murderer: I hear horses.

First Murderer: They’ll be getting off and walking the rest of the way.

Second Murderer: I see them.  Here they come.  Get down and hide.

    (Banquo and Fleance arrive on foot with a torch.)

Banquo: Looks like rain tonight.  And me without an umbrella.

    (Murderers leap out and attack Banquo.)

Banquo: Run, Fleance!  (Fleance flees.)  Oh, shit!  (Falls dead.)

Third Murderer: The kid got away.

First Murderer: Oh, bad luck.  But at least we got Banquo.  Let’s go report to Macbeth.

    (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 4.  The dining hall in the palace.  Macbeth, his wife, Ross, Lennox, Lords, and attendants come in.  The food is on the table.

Macbeth: Everyone sit down.  You know your places.

A Lord: Those ribs smell awesome!

Another Lord: Fries and cole slaw, too!  Mmm-mmm!

    (First Murderer appears.  Macbeth takes him aside.)

Macbeth: How did it go?

Murderer: Banquo’s dead, but the kid got away.

Macbeth: Oh, too bad.  Well, no point worrying about it.  You did fine.  Now beat it.  (Murderer leaves.  Macbeth returns to the table.)  Sorry, heh, heh.  Just making a little bet on a horse, heh, heh.

Lady Macbeth: Come on, sit down.  We can’t start without you.  The ribs will get cold.

    (The Ghost of Banquo appears and sits down in Macbeth’s place.)

Macbeth: Oh, fucking hell.  What am I seeing?

Lennox: Sit down, my lord.  Try this barbecue sauce.  It’s terrific.

Macbeth: Yes…of course….Well, the upper class is all here…except for Banquo….Hope nothing’s happened to him.

Ross: If he misses out on these ribs, it’s his loss.  Aren’t you going to sit down?

Macbeth: Oh…the table appears to be full.

Lennox: No, no.  Here’s your seat.

Macbeth: Where?

Lennox: Right here.  What’s the matter?

Macbeth: Is this somebody’s idea of a joke?

Lords: Joke?  What joke, my lord?

Macbeth: Don’t fuck with my head!  You know what I mean!

Ross: You know what, guys?  Maybe we should go.  His Majesty is obviously not feeling well.

Lady Macbeth: No, no, please sit.  It’s nothing.  Just a little post-traumatic stress disorder….You know…from fighting the Norwegians…and finding our King dead.

Macbeth (Pointing at Ghost): Look!  Look!  Are the dead coming back to us?  (Ghost leaves.)

Lady Macbeth: Please, my lord.  You have all your friends here.  This is supposed to be a celebration.

Macbeth: Oh…yes…I forgot….I’m sorry, lads.  It must be my nerves.  It happens occasionally.  Okay, let’s have some wine. Here’s to all of you, and especially to my good friend Banquo.  Wish he was here.  (Ghost of Banquo returns.)  Damn you!  Get out of my sight!  Don’t you come in here like that!  You’re not real!   You’re a damned ghost!  (Ghost leaves.)  Oh…oh….That’s better….It’s gone now.

Lady Macbeth: You’re ruining this dinner for everyone.

Macbeth: How can you see such a thing and not be afraid?

Ross: What sort of thing, my lord?

Lady Macbeth: I’m sorry, boys.  The King is just out of it this evening, for some reason.  I’m afraid dinner is over.  And I had cherry cheesecake for dessert, too.  Too bad.

Lennox:  Hope the King feels better tomorrow.

Lady Macbeth: Thanks for coming, boys.  We’ll make up for it next time.  Good night.

    (Guests leave.)

Macbeth: The murderer always gets revealed in the end, doesn’t he?  There are signs that point to him, aren’t there?  And murder is avenged by blood.  Isn’t that so?…It’s odd that Macduff didn’t show up tonight, don’t you think?

Lady Macbeth: Did you send word to him to find out why?

Macbeth: No, but I can find out.  I have a spy in every one of their houses, you know.  Tomorrow I’ll go see those witches again.  I have to know what sort of danger I’m in.  I’ve already got enough blood on my hands, but I’m thinking that it’s not over yet.  There’ll be more.

Lady Macbeth: What you need is a good night’s sleep.

     (They leave.)

Act 3, Scene 5.  This scene is deleted.

Act 3, Scene 6.  In the palace.  Lennox and another Lord come in.

Lennox: So the way I see it, Fleance killed Banquo.  That’s why he fled.  If he ever falls into Macbeth’s hands, he’ll pay with his life, that’s for sure.  See what Macbeth did to those drunken attendants that murdered Duncan?  Now, that was noble!  And I hear that Macduff didn’t show up for the King’s dinner, and now he’s on the shit list.  I wonder where he is.

Lord: The latest word is that he went to England to join Malcolm.  Malcolm has gotten really tight with King Edward, so now Macduff wants Edward’s help to raise an army, probably in Northumberland.  You know Siward, the Earl of Northumberland?  He’s a total warmonger.  It’s a sure bet there’s going to be big trouble.  Macbeth is getting ready for war.

Lennox: Poor Macbeth.  It’s one damn problem after another.

Lord: Being a King isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Lennox: You said it.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 1.  The Witches’ haunt.  The Three Witches are stirring a cauldron.

First Witch: Did you put in enough eye of newt?

Second Witch: Yes, dearie, and some bat’s wool, too.

Third Witch: Is there enough hemlock, d’ya think?

Second Witch: Yes, yes, plenty.

First Witch: They don’t use hemlock at all in France, or so I’ve heard.

Second Witch: Well, that’s the French for you.  They think they’re better than we are.  They think hemlock is low-class.  They use foxglove instead.

Third Witch: Oooh, foxglove….Now, ain’t that special.

Second Witch: The French can’t do sorcery like we can, that’s for sure.

First Witch: No, their spells wear off too fast.

Third Witch: Hope you didn’t forget the baboon’s blood.

Second Witch: No, but I had to cut back on it.   Baboon’s blood has gotten very expensive since the government raised the tariff on it.

Third Witch: They don’t think about the effect on people like us.  It’s getting harder and harder to maintain a traditional way of life.

First Witch: Ain’t it the truth.

Second Witch: I think we have a visitor.

    (Macbeth comes in.)

Macbeth: God, that smells awful, even for Scottish cooking!

Second Witch: It’s not for eating, it’s for casting spells.

Third Witch: It’s part of a religious belief system, so you can’t criticize it.

Macbeth: What the hell have you got in there?

First Witch: Well, we got a Jew’s liver, and some poisoned intestines–

Macbeth: Stop!  I don’t want to know.  As long as it works for sorcery and predicting the future.  That’s all I care about.

Second Witch: It works for making good apparitions.  Watch.

    (Thunder.  First Apparition appears — a helmeted head.)

Macbeth: Oh, you unholy apparition, tell me–

First Witch: You don’t have to ask.  It already knows what you want.  Just be quiet and let it speak.

First Apparition: Macbeth!  Macbeth!  Beware Macduff.  Beware the Thane of Fife.  That is all.  (Apparition disappears.)

Macbeth: Damn.  I was afraid of that.  But I also want to know–

First Witch: Here’s another one.  Just be quiet and listen.

    (Thunder.  Second Apparition appears — a bloody child.)

Second Apparition: Macbeth!  Macbeth!  No man born of a woman shall harm you.  That is all.  (Disappears.)

Macbeth: Oh, well, that’s good news!  Then I don’t have to worry about Macduff or any other man, do I?  But one more thing I want to know….

    (Thunder.  Third Apparition appears — a child wearing a crown, with a little tree in his hand.)

Third Apparition: Macbeth shall never be defeated until Great Birnam Wood shall come to Dunsinane Hill.  That is all.  (Disappears.)

Macbeth: Oh, perfect!  That can never happen!  I mean, like, what, a bunch of trees are going to uproot themselves and start walking?  (Imitates a tree walking.)  Oh, we’re going to Dunsinane, we’re on our way to Dunsinane, we’re trees and we’re going for a nice, long walk to Dunsinane, perfectly normal, we do it all the time….Hey, I love this prophecy stuff.  Just one more thing.  Last thing.  I promise.  Will Banquo be the father of kings?

    (Sound of oboes — a suitable flourish for a King.)

All Witches: Show him!

    (An image of eight Kings, and Banquo at the end as the ninth King, holding a mirror.  His robe is bloody.  Banquo points to the other Kings and then to himself, to indicate they are his.)

Macbeth: Oh, bloody hell!  Eight of them!  Fucking bloody hell!  You rotten hags!  Say it ain’t so!

First Witch: Hey, you asked for it.  (The Witches and the image disappear in a puff of smoke.)

Macbeth: Oh, fuck.  Oh, fuck.

    (Lennox comes in.)

Lennox: Here you are, my lord.

Macbeth: Did you see those three witches?

Lennox: No. What witches?

Macbeth: Fuck it.  Never mind. 

Lennox: I have some news for you, my lord.  Macduff has fled to England.

Macbeth: That fucking traitor!  (Aside)  I’ll kill his whole family.

    (They leave.)

Act 4, Scene 2.  Macduff’s castle.  Lady Macduff, her son, and Ross.

Lady Macduff: Why did Duff go to England?  It’s a crazy thing to do.  It makes him look like a traitor.  What was he afraid of?

Ross: I can’t say, but we should assume he had his reasons.  Right now, nobody knows who they can trust.  Anyway, I have to leave.

    (Ross leaves.  Shortly thereafter, a messenger arrives.)

Messenger: Madam, you don’t know me, but I’ve come to warn you to take the children and run.  You’re in great danger.  I must go.  (He leaves.)

Lady Macduff: Go where?  Why should I go anywhere?  I haven’t done anything.

    (Murderers come in.)

Murderer: Where’s your husband?  He’s a traitor!

Son: Liar!  My daddy’s not a traitor!

Murderer: You little bastard!  (Stabs the boy.)

Son: Mama!  Run away!

    (Lady Macduff flees, crying “Murder!” as murderers pursue her.)

Act 4, Scene 3.  In front of the King’s palace in England.  Malcolm and Macduff.

Malcolm: You’ve always been close to Macbeth.  And so far he hasn’t done you any harm.  How do I know you weren’t sent here to deliver me into his hands?

Macduff: What sort of villain do you think I am?

Malcolm: Well, excuse me for thinking it, but it seems kind of strange that you would leave your family all of a sudden and come here.

Macduff: I ought to walk away from you right now, to think you would suspect me of that kind of treachery. 

Malcolm: Sorry.  Don’t be offended….You know, the English are ready to provide me with an army to go back to Scotland and get rid of Macbeth.  But for all anyone knows, I could turn out to be a worse King than he is.

Macduff: That’s ridiculous.

Malcolm: No, seriously.  For instance, I’m a total sex addict.  I want to fuck every woman in sight.

Macduff: Well…ahem…of course, that can be a bad thing.  But if you want women, that can be arranged discreetly.  And plenty of women would be willing.

Malcolm: But I’m also a greedy bastard.  Greedy, greedy, greedy.  You have no idea.  I’d probably plunder all the nobles.  I’d get my hands on everything I could.

Macduff: Well…ahem…to be sure, greed can be a bad thing, too.  It’s been the downfall of many a king.  But, after all, there’s plenty of luxuries for you in Scotland.  You’d be quite well off.

Malcolm: But there’s another thing you ought to know.  I don’t have any of the qualities a king should have — justice, temperance, stability, courage, mercy, and all those other virtues.  Quite the opposite.  I’m devoted to every sort of crime and evil.  I’d unleash hell on earth and plunge the whole country into chaos.  Do you think such a person is fit to govern?

Macduff: Oh, my poor Scotland!  If you’re to become King, I’ll never go back!  There’s no hope!

Malcolm: Relax, Duff.  I was kidding.  I was just testing you, ha, ha. 

Macduff: Wise guy.

Malcolm: Look, now that I know we’re on the same side, I’ll do everything I can to help you.  Siward has had ten thousand soldiers ready since before you got here, and he’s already on the move.  We’ll join forces with him.

    (A doctor arrives.)

Malcolm: Doctor, is the King coming?

Doctor: Yeah, pretty soon.  He’s doing some faith healing on some people with an incurable disease.  (Doctor leaves.)

Macduff: What disease was he talking about?

Malcolm: Scrofula.  It’s pretty gross.  There’s a lot of swelling and stinky pus.  King Edward does this thing with a gold coin and praying and stuff like that.  I don’t know how it works, but it works.  He can also tell the future.  He’s made a lot of money in commodities.

    (Ross comes in.)

Macduff: Hey, look who’s here.  My cousin Ross.

Ross: Hi, guys.

Macduff: So, do we still have a Scotland to go back to?

Ross: Scotland’s a fucking mess.  People are dying left and right.  It’s total misery.

Macduff: How’s my family?

Ross (Hesitating): They were fine when I left them.

Macduff: You’re hiding something.  Tell me the truth.

Ross: They’ve all been murdered.  I’m sorry.

Macduff: How could God let this happen?  They died on account of me.

Malcolm: We’ll get even, Duff.

Macduff: Wait till I get my hands on Macbeth.

Malcolm: We’re ready to strike back.  All this shit will come to an end.  You’ll see.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 1.  In the castle at Dunsinane.  A doctor and a gentlewoman.

Gentlewoman: Lady Macbeth has been sleepwalking, Doctor.  She even writes notes in her sleep.

Doctor: Has she said anything?

Gentlewoman: Nothing I would ever repeat.  (Lady Macbeth comes in, sleepwalking and holding a candle.)  Look.  She’s at it again.  Her eyes are open, but she’s asleep, believe me.

Lady Macbeth: Out, damned spot!

Doctor: Spot?  Is that her dog?

Gentlewoman: No, they don’t have a dog.

Lady Macbeth: Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?

Doctor: I’m not sure I want to hear this.

Lady Macbeth: Where is Lady Macduff now?  Will these hands never be clean?  Wash your hands.  Banquo’s dead and buried.

Doctor: Uh, oh.

Lady Macbeth: The crime cannot be undone.  Let’s go to bed.  (She leaves.)

Doctor: You should keep an eye on her.  And keep her away from sharp objects.

Gentlewoman: I will.  Thank you for coming, Doctor.

    (They leave.)

Act 5, Scene 2.  The country near Dunsinane.  Lords Menteith, Caithness, Angus, and Lennox, with soldiers.  These are loyal to Malcolm.

Menteith: The English are getting close.  Malcolm, Siward, and Macduff are leading them.

Angus: We’ll meet up with them near Birnam Wood.

Caithness: Is Donalbain with them?

Lennox: No, he’s not in this fight at all.  He’s either a pacifist or he’s gay.  But Siward’s son is with them, and a lot of good, young English lads who are ready to kick ass.

Menteith: What about Macbeth?

Caithness: He’s built up the defenses at Dunsinane.  I’ve also heard he’s raving like a madman.

Angus: I’m not surprised.  His soldiers hate him, and he knows it.

Caithness: Let’s get to Birnam and meet up with the others.

Menteith (to Lennox): Hey, is that really true about Donalbain?

Lennox: Is what true?

Menteith: That he’s gay?

Lennox: Listen, just forget I said that, all right?

Menteith: Okay.  Whatever.

    (All leave.) 

Act 5, Scene 3.  In the castle at Dunsinane.  Macbeth, the doctor, and attendants come in.

Macbeth: I don’t give a rat’s ass about what the enemy is doing.  I was given a prophecy.  No man born of a woman can harm me.  So fuck Malcolm, fuck all the nobles who deserted me, and fuck the English.  I am so fucking fed up.  Instead of being surrounded by loyal troops and getting the love, obedience, and honor I deserve, all I hear is grumbling and bitching and curses against me….Leyton!

    (Leyton, an officer, comes in.)

Leyton: Yes, my lord?

Macbeth: What’s the news?

Leyton: The enemy has ten thousand troops marching against us.

Macbeth: I’m ready to fight, so fuck ’em all.  Doctor, how’s my wife?

Doctor: She’s hallucinating.  She’s out of her mind.

Macbeth: Don’t you have a pill for that?

Doctor: I’m afraid not.

Macbeth: Well, there must be some kind of herbal remedy.  I see them advertised everywhere.  Come on, man, what do I pay you for?  Leyton, get me my armor.  I want some scouts sent out.  And if any of our men are talking like chicken-shit cowards, hang ’em.  Remember, you guys, until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, I rule!  (Leyton and doctor leave.)

Act 5, Scene 4.  The country near Birnam Wood.  The English army, along with Malcolm, Siward, Young Siward, Macduff, Menteith, Caithness, and Angus.

Siward: What forest is this?

Menteith: This is called Birnam Wood.

Malcolm: I have a brilliant idea!  How about this?  We’ll cut leafy branches off the trees, and all the soldiers will cover themselves so they won’t be noticed, and then we’ll sort of creep up little by little.  That way we can get real close to the castle.

Siward: That could work, as long as the bastard stays in the castle.

Malcolm: He’s got to stay inside.  A lot of guys are deserting him, and those that are staying probably are just waiting for a chance to surrender.

Siward: We should assume there’s going to be some fighting anyway, so let’s get down to it.

    (All leave, marching.)

Act 5, Scene 5.  Inside Dunsinane Castle.  Macbeth, Leyton, and soldiers, including drums and colors.

Macbeth: We’re safe inside the castle.  They’ll never break in.  (A cry of women is heard.)  What the hell is that?  Leyton, go check.  (Leyton leaves.)  As if I didn’t have enough to worry about.  (Leyton returns.)

Leyton: The Queen is dead, my lord.  It appears to be suicide.

Macbeth: Oh, God, not now!  How much can I bear?  Day after day, and every day after that, life is just totally fucking meaningless bullshit.  And then you die.  And that’s all there is.

    (Messenger arrives.)

Messenger: My lord, I have something very strange to report.

Macbeth: What is it?

Messenger: Well, this may sound crazy, but it appears that the trees of Birnam Wood are moving slowly toward the castle. 

Macbeth: What?  You need to have your eyes checked, man!

Messenger: My lord, you can see for yourself.  It’s about three miles away.  The trees are moving.

Macbeth: Wait a minute….Birnam Wood…moving toward Dunsinane….Oh, my God!  The prophecy!  I will rule until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.  Okay, everyone, strap on your gear.  We can’t run, and we can’t hide.  We have to fight.

    (All leave.)

Act 5, Scene 6.  Before the castle of Dunsinane.  The English forces, with Malcolm, Siward, and Macduff, all holding leafy branches.

Malcolm: We’re close enough.  Siward, you and your son lead the first charge.  Macduff and I will lead the second. 

Siward: That suits me fine.  Blow the trumpets!  And make it loud!  It scares the shit out of the gooks!  (Sounds of trumpets.)

Act 5, Scene 7.  On the battlefield.  Macbeth comes in alone.

Macbeth: Okay, take it easy.  Nothing to worry about.  No man born of a woman can hurt me.  I’m Superman.

    (Young Siward comes in, brandishing sword.)

Young Siward: Who are you?

Macbeth: I’m Macbeth!  I’m the King!  Be afraid!  Be very afraid!

Young Siward: You piece of shit!

    (They fight with swords, and Macbeth kills Young Siward.)

Macbeth: You sucker!  You were born of a woman, so there was no way you could kill me!  The prophecy is true!  I can’t be killed!

    (He leaves.  Sounds of battle.  Macduff comes in alone.)

Macduff: Macbeth, if I don’t kill you myself, I’ll never be able to bear my family’s death.  And judging from the noise, I think I know where to find you.

    (He leaves.  More sounds of battle.  Malcolm and Siward come in.)

Siward: Look!  Everyone in the castle is surrendering!  This is going to be easy.

Malcolm: You see?  They don’t want to fight for Macbeth.

Siward: Let’s get inside.

    (They leave.  More sounds of battle.)

Act 5, Scene 8.  Elsewhere on the battlefield, Macbeth and Macduff meet.

Macduff: At last I’ve got you, you son of a bitch!

Macbeth: You’re the last man I wanted to fight, but now that you’re here, I’ll soak the ground with your blood!

    (They fight with swords.)

Macbeth: I can’t be killed by any man born of a woman!  It was a prophecy!

Macduff: Well, I got a surprise for you, pal!  I was delivered by Caesarian!  So I was not actually born by my mother!

Macbeth: What!  Hey, that’s not fair!  That’s a technicality!  You can’t use that!

Macduff: You should always read the fine print!

Macbeth: Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!

    (They resume the fighting.  Macduff kills Macbeth.  Then he leaves, dragging the body with him.  Trumpet call to withdraw.  Malcolm, Siward, Ross, Lords, and soldiers come in.)

Siward: I’d say we kicked their butts, all right.

Malcolm: Macduff is missing, and so’s your son.

Ross: Your son, Young Siward, is dead.  He died fighting like a good soldier.

Siward: If I had as many sons as the hairs on my head, I’d want them all to die the same way.

    (Macduff comes in, holding Macbeth’s head.)

Macduff: Well, I got myself a nice trophy.  And you, my lord Malcolm, Prince Royal, and rightful heir to the throne, are now the King of Scotland.

    (A flourish of trumpets.)

Malcolm: Thank you!  Thank you!  Every one of you!  This means honors and rewards for all of you. The coronation will be at Scone on, uh, let’s make it Sunday.  Big banquet to follow.  You’ll all be there, of course.  Now, I want you to get the word out to everyone who left the country that it’s safe to come back — especially to my brother, Donalbain.  And, yes, I know all about the rumors, so just to set the record straight…Don is not gay.

    (Flourish of trumpets.  All leave as curtain falls.)


    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail:

2 Responses to “Shakespeare For White Trash: Macbeth”

  1. Joel Kazoo Says:

    Macbeth has always been my favorite Shakespeare play. Nice job, Crad!

  2. Gus Franza Says:

    Hey Crad, “Macbeth” is hilarious! Much much better than Classic Comics!


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