The Happy Ending Shakespeare Company, Volume 3

MACBETH
by William Shakespeare

     (a wood.  MACBETH and BANQUO enter.  They’ve just won a battle.  It’s late.  They encounter a trio of witches.)

WITCH 1. Macbeth, you will be king.
WITCH 2. Banquo, your sons will be kings.
MACBETH.  Really?
BANQUO.  Wow.  Really?
MACBETH.  Hey, fabulous.
BANQUO.  That’s great.
MACBETH.  Hey, congratulations, buddy.
BANQUO.  Right back atcha.
MACBETH.  This calls for a celebration.
BANQUO.  I’ll go get the mead.
MACBETH.  Wait a minute.  Wait.
BANQUO.  What’s up?
MACBETH.  I’m going to be king?
WITCH 3. Yes, and Banquo, your sons will be king.
BANQUO.  That’s me, second place again.  Ha.  (Beat)  Thane?
MACBETH.  Hmm.
BANQUO.  What’s the matter?
MACBETH.  Well, I’m thinking.
BANQUO.  Share.
MACBETH.  Well, I like power.  You know I like power.  And my wife certainly likes power.
BANQUO.  Boy, does she.  (to Witches) You should get a load of his wife.
WITCH 1.  Mm.
MACBETH.  It’s just —
BANQUO.  What.
MACBETH.  Well, I’m thinking — you know what I’m thinking?  I’m thinking, who are these women?
BANQUO.  How do you mean?
MACBETH.  Well, let’s look at the situation.  They’re camping in the woods.
BANQUO.  Yes —
MACBETH.  And they’re, well, let’s say they have spurned the fickle master of contemporary fashion.
BANQUO.  Agreed —
MACBETH.  And they’re ugly.
BANQUO.  Mm hm —
MACBETH.  That one even has a wart.
BANQUO.  Mm.  And that means — ?
MACBETH.  Who is the messenger?
BANQUO.  Who —
MACBETH.  You see?
BANQUO.  Mm.
MACBETH.  I — wait — is that, is that a cauldron?
BANQUO.  I — well how about that.  It is.  It is a cauldron.
MACBETH.  See?
BANQUO.  I’m beginning to.
MACBETH.  Here’s what I’m thinking.  I’d like to be king, you know that.
BANQUO.  Sure.
MACBETH.  I like nice things, my wife likes nice things, It would be great to have everyone pay me taxes.  Truth is, I’m kind of sick of being Thane, hauling my ass out into the woods to fight battles for Duncan, who, as you know, I don’t hold in the highest regard.
BANQUO.  We were just talking about it.
MACBETH. (imitating Duncan as a drooling idiot) “Hey, Thane, go fight a battle for me!  It’ll increase my glory!”
BANQUO. (laughs appreciatively) Boy, you nailed him.  You nailed him.
MACBETH.  It was up to me, sure, I’d be king, your sons would be kings, everything.
BANQUO.  Sure.
MACBETH.  Whole deal.  The works.  Let’s go for it.  Right?
BANQUO.  Right.
MACBETH.  But it’s not up to me.
BANQUO.  It’s — oh, that’s right.
MACBETH.  Know how it’d be up to me?
BANQUO.  How.
MACBETH.  If I killed him.
BANQUO.  Killed — ?
MACBETH.  Duncan.  If I killed him.  You know, like invite him to dinner, drug him, stab him in his sleep.  That’s how I’d become king.
BANQUO.  Mm.
MACBETH.  See?  That’s the only way that would happen.  In our system, the way it is.
BANQUO.  Mm.
MACBETH.  And then what?
BANQUO.  And then you would be king.
MACBETH.  Yeah, but then what?  I’d spend my life worrying that someone was going to find out.  Right?  And what else?
BANQUO.  I don’t know.
MACBETH.  Well, think about it.  I’d have to kill your sons.
BANQUO.  Oh.  Snap.
MACBETH.  And you.
BANQUO.  Riiiiiiiggghht.
MACBETH.  You see?
BANQUO.  Right, ’cause of the — right.  Wow.  (shakes head) Wow.
MACBETH.  And then where would we be?
BANQUO.  Good point.  Wow.
MACBETH.  Would anybody be happy then?
BANQUO.  Not me.
MACBETH.  Not me, not you, not my wife, nobody.
BANQUO.  Shit.  See, that’s why you’re the Thane.
MACBETH.  Now then.
BANQUO.  Mm.
MACBETH.  Now then.  Okay.  So.  Three strange women.  Around a cauldron.  In the woods.  Tell me I’m going to be king.
BANQUO.  I see —
MACBETH.  You see?
BANQUO.  They’re not really in a position to —
MACBETH. — to make that happen.
BANQUO.  They’re talking out their asses.
MACBETH.  Or worse.
BANQUO.  Worse?
MACBETH.  I think they’re witches.
BANQUO.  Shit.  Yeah.  Yeah, ’cause of the cauldron, yeah.  Shit, yeah, witches.  Geez.
MACBETH.  See?
BANQUO.  Abso — yeah.
MACBETH.  When did a witch ever do you a favor?
BANQUO.  Never.
MACBETH.  Why not?
BANQUO.  ‘Cause they’re no damn good.
MACBETH.  You see?
BANQUO.  Fuckin’ witches, man.
MACBETH.  They’re up to no good.  See?  They’ve got nothin’ better to do —
BANQUO.  Than fuck around with a couple of second-level noblemen on their way home through the woods after a battle.
MACBETH.  This is what I’m thinking.
BANQUO.  And we almost fell for it.
MACBETH.  You see?
BANQUO.  Absolutely.
MACBETH.  So, as nice as it would be to be king —
BANQUO.  And for my sons to be kings —
MACBETH.  I think we would do well to not to base important decisions on the words of some witches who live in the woods.
BANQUO.  Pal o’  mine, I think you’re right.
MACBETH.  And so, ladies, we must bid you adieu.
BANQUO.  Yeah, sorry.
MACBETH.  Let’s leave this place, old friend.  Home fires await.
BANQUO.  I’m right with  you.
     (Exeunt.  Beat.)
WITCH 1.  Well, we tried.
     Curtain.


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Comments

22 Responses to “The Happy Ending Shakespeare Company, Volume 3”
  1. tenebrae says:

    Funny, but not up to the standard and the brevity of previous work, we in the plebicite seats give it a five.

    • Todd says:

      If we offend, it is with our good will.
      That you should think we come not to offend,
      But with good will.

      • tenebrae says:

        I’m just messin’ with you. It’s just that generally your stuff is of a high enough quality that when you write something on my somewhat stunted level it is suprising. Because, frankly, I am a terrible, terrible writer.

        In other words, I blame myself. No, wait, I blame society.

  2. mcbrennan says:

    For those demanding brevity:

    WITCHES: Blah blah blah KINGS Blah blah!
    (Beat.)
    MACBETH: You know what would be good?
    BANQUO: That’d be what?
    MACBETH: Representative democracy.
    BANQUO: Seconded.

    (Beat.)
    BANQUO: I hate to say this, but your wife is kind of a–
    MACBETH: Who are you telling?

    (Beat.)
    BANQUO: Have you ever considered changing your name to “The Scottish Play”?
    MACBETH: I have not.
    BANQUO: Might kinda improve your luck, if you get me.
    MACBETH: I thank you, sir.

    Curtain.

    My humble contribution. I have to tell you I’ve really been enjoying these. Should there be a full-scale production, one hopes you’ll remember me kindly at auditions.

    • Todd says:

      Thank you for your kind words.

      There was once a full-scale production of these, or a small-scale production anyway. They were done as part of Yikes! a variety show I used to do back in the 90s with R. Sikoryak.

      There was also a version of Hamlet, which follows below, which I have not included because James’s version from yesterday is actually much better.

  3. mr_noy says:

    The Tempest
    By William Shakespeare

    On a ship at sea.

    Master: Boatswain!
    Boatswain: Here, master: what cheer?
    Master: Lovely weather for sailing, ist’ not?
    Boatswain: Aye, sir. ‘Tis most agreeable. We should reach Milan in good time.

    And they did. The end.

    • Todd says:

      I noticed. I had a different version in mind.

      What interests me in Shakespeare is why the protagonists do the things they do. Why are they not smarter? Why are they so perverse? Why does Lear, an experienced king, make the decision to split up his land before he dies? Shouldn’t he know that his decision will lead to civil war, regardless of his daughters’ feelings toward him? Why doesn’t Hamlet just pull it together and do the thing he wants so badly to do? Why doesn’t Antonio just go ahead and tell Bassanio he loves him? If Macbeth stopped for ten seconds to consider the situation, he would make a different decision about his future.

      • dougo says:

        Because then there would be no lessons to teach. Plus, if the tragedy isn’t caused by human mistakes, it would have to be caused by fate, and that’s just too depressing.

      • xiphias says:

        In Hamlet, MY theory, at least, is that the “Bad Quarto” is a better recolection of how the play originally flowed.

        In the “Bad Quarto”, Hamlet has no chances to kill Claudius until the “my offense is rank” scene, and his argument that, “Dad’s burning in Hell — I want Claudius to burn in Hell, too” makes sense. The only other time that he’s got a shot at Claudius is in the final scene. He doesn’t dither, doesn’t waver.

        Besides, it’s two and a half hours performed, which is pretty much in line for performance.

        The only thing that doesn’t make sense is that Polonius (who goes by a different name in the Bad Quarto) delivers the “still harping on my daughter” bit after “Get thee to a Nunnery”, which, let’s face it, no matter how out-of-it Polonius is, really ought to have been a clue.

        Since the subtitle of the Second Quarto (aka, “The Good Quarto”, aka “The One That Shakespeare Actually Wrote”) has a subtitle explaining that it’s newly revised and expanded, and is much, much longer, I think that Shakespeare put in a whole bunch new scenes, reorganized the play. . .

        And turned it into a literary work to be read, which focused on character and internal things, rather than an revenge play focusing on action.

        That’s the fascinating thing. To me, it looks like Shakespeare changed the genre of Hamlet, when he changed it from a performance piece to a literary piece.

        I think the Bad Quarto is better to stage (well, the Bad Quarto with the language from the Good Quarto swapped in, anyway). But the Good Quarto is better to read.