The Real Thane
by David Salcido
Three Witches - Ugly, bearded, creatures of the night
MacBeth - Noble, but clueless, aspirant to the throne
Banquo - Exasperated companion to MacBeth
(Lights up on bubbling cauldron. Witch 2 is stirring pot. Witch 3 is watching over her shoulder. Witch 1 is sitting on barca lounger reading a copy of Hovel & Cauldron magazine.)
WITCH 2: What's on the crystal, sister?
WITCH 1: Hm. Let's see. (Rummages in sleeve and pulls out crystal ball. Holds up ball.) Christians invading Jerusalem... royal scandal... public beheadings... Church inquisition and pledge drive... (Puts ball back in pocket.) Nothing but re-runs. (Resumes reading magazine.)
WITCH 2: BAH!
WITCH 3: I'm hungry.
WITCH 2: You're always hungry. If you hadn’t let those two lovely plump Dutch children slip through your fingers, we’d have eaten long ago.
WITCH 3: That wasn’t my fault! If we had poisoned them like I suggested they wouldn’t have eaten us out of house and home!
WITCH 2: Well, whose idea was it to build the house out of gingerbread to begin with?
WITCH 3: It was an artistic statement!
WITCH 1: (Holding up magazine.) And it did bag us the spread in Hovel & Cauldron magazine.
WITCH 3: There, you see! Now everybody will know how cutting edge we are! Why, we’ll have important guests simply crawling out of the woodwork.
WITCH 1: Mm. Too bad we no longer have a house to entertain them in.
WITCH 3: (Sticking nose into pot.) When will it be ready?
WITCH 2: It's almost done. (Witch 2 lifts oversized spoon to taste.) Hm. Needs something, but I'm not sure what...
WITCH 3: Let me taste! (Takes spoon from Witch 2 and sips. Spits back in disgust.) Bah! That's revolting!
WITCH 2: Why thank you sister, you're too kind. Yet I'm sure there's something missing. (Witch 2 picks up recipe book and reads off ingredients aloud, Witch 3 reads along over her shoulder. Enter MacBeth and Banquo who stop at end of clearing to listen.)
WITCH 2&3: Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog.
Wool of bat and tongue of dog
Adder's fork and blind worm's sting.
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing...
WITCH 3: Did you remember the howlet's wing?
WITCH 2: Of course I did! What kind of witch would I be if I forgot something as important as the howlet's wing?
WITCH 3: (Sniffs.) Well, I'd rather not get into that. It tastes a tad light on the howlet’s wing is all I'm saying.
WITCH 2: And I'm telling you I put in two and a half cups of howlet's wing, just as the recipe calls for!
WITCH 1: Girls, girls! Let's not argue shall we. It's been a long day and I'm pooped.
MACBETH: (Clears throat.) Excuse me, ladies.
ALL 3: Ey? (All look toward MacBeth and Banquo.)
BANQUO: (Recoils at sight of witches’ faces.) Ngah! That's using the term loosely...!
WITCH 1: Who are you? What do you want?
MACBETH: We are but weary wanderers...
WITCH 1: We’re closed. Come back tomorrow.
MACBETH: Ah... well...
WITCH 3: Are you lost? (Leans toward the two men hungrily.)
BANQUO: (Pulling MacBeth back.) Ixnay on the ostlay
MACBETH:: Right, right.
WITCH 3: (To Witch 2.) Maybe they saw our spread in the magazine!
WITCH 2: I doubt it, sister, they don’t look the type. Too (makes face) clean.
MACBETH: (To Witches.) I wouldn't say lost exactly. More misdirected... Look, I know this is completely unexpected. Nobody is more surprised than myself...
WITCH 3: (To Witch 2.) I’ll ask. (To MacBeth.) Did you read about us in the magazine?
MACBETH: Pardon? What magazine?
WITCH 3: (To Witch 2.) You’re right, sister. Rabble.
(Witch 2 and 3 turn back to the pot. Witch 1 sits back in her chair and goes back to reading magazine.)
WITCH 1: (Looking up.) Anything else?
MACBETH: Well... actually...
WITCH 1: Right. (Turns back to magazine.)
MACBETH: (Looks about desperately.) And what might that be in yon bubbling cauldron? A brew to give you magical powers, ey? To bewitch lovers perhaps? Or poison to dunk fruit into, for dispatching beautiful maidens?
WITCH 2: No. It's soup.
WITCH 3: Soup!
BANQUO: With those ingredients?
WITCH 2: It's an old family recipe.
MACBETH: It sounds disgusting.
WITCH 2: Have you ever seen what's in a hot dog?
BANQUO: (Exchanges looks with MacBeth.) Good point. Look, maybe we should move on.
WITCH 1: Lovely idea. Goodbye.
MACBETH: Ah ha ha ha. Yes, well. There is just one small problem...
WITCH 1: (Gets up and steps toward MacBeth and Banquo.) Problem?
MACBETH: Yes... You see, we're not entirely sure... that is... we're not exactly... Um... We seem to have misplaced my castle.
WITCH 3: Your what?
MACBETH: My castle.
WITCH 1: Well, it's not here. Goodbye.
MACBETH: No. Ha ha. Of course it isn't here. We're here and it isn't. That... you see... is the problem.
WITCH 1: Haven't seen it. Goodbye. (Turns to join sisters at cauldron.)
BANQUO: What do you mean you haven't seen it? You're here on the castle grounds, aren’t you? It's huge! You can't miss it!
WITCH 3: If that's true, how did you “misplace” it?
MACBETH: (Heavy sigh.) All right, all right. We admit it. We're lost. Now, good ladies... or whatever... would you be so kind as to show us the way to the castle?
WITCH 1: Don't know the way.
WITCH 3: Can I eat ‘em?
WITCH 2: No, you’ll spoil your appetite.
BANQUO: Good lord! Do you know to whom you are speaking?
WITCH 3: No. Should we?
BANQUO: He is liege lord of these windswept lands! You are in the presence of his lordship MacBeth!
WITCH 3: Mac who?
BANQUO: Beth! MacBeth!
WITCH 3: Hm. Sorry. Don't know any Beth MacBeth.
BANQUO: No no no. Not Beth MacBeth. MACBETH! Just MacBeth. Plain and simply, MacBeth!
ALL 3: (Rub chins, pondering.) Hm. No. No.
WITCH 1: Don't know any of them. Go away.
BANQUO: Listen here, good woman—if woman you are—surely you must have heard of MacBeth. He's a favorite of the court...
WITCH 1: Wait! You don't mean MacBeth, Thane of Cawdor?
BANQUO: (Exasperated.) No! MacBeth, Thane of Glamis!
WITCH 1: Whatever. (Turns back to cauldron.) He could be the bloody king for all I care, and you the father of kings. It doesn't matter a toad's fart to me.
(Banquo steps forward to argue, but MacBeth pulls him back.)
MACBETH: Hold on, good Banquo! This could be a sign!
BANQUO: A what?
MACBETH: A sign! You know, a prophecy!
BANQUO: A... prophecy...
MACBETH: You think so, too? Marvelous! (Rubs hands together.)
BANQUO: My lord, would it be presuming too much to ask just what the hell you’re talking about?
MACBETH: Of course not. It's a canny ruse, but I've seen through it! It's well known that I am Thane of Glamis, correct?
BANQUO: By all but these three, apparently.
MACBETH: Exactly! And why would three mysterious women, living on my lands, not know who I am?
BANQUO: (Hesitantly.) ... they don’t get out much?
MACBETH: No, no, no. Follow along, my dear thick fellow. Three mysterious women. Living on my lands. Who don’t know who I am...
BANQUO: (Shaking head.) ...they’re... new in town!
MACBETH: No! (Throws up hands in exasperation.) Let’s try another track. Don’t you think it peculiar that we have become lost ON MY OWN LANDS?
BANQUO: Not really. I did tell you to pack a map...
MACBETH: Nonsense! I know these lands like the back of my head...
BANQUO: Mm hm. The hair of which is, at the moment, loose or braided?
MACBETH: Er. Never mind! The fact is that we could not have become lost were it not for some sort of... enchantment... which would have come over us to confuse our way and lead us here!
(Banquo opens mouth to reply, then shuts it.)
MACBETH: It’s as clear as the beards on these offensive creatures’ faces! Banquo, my dear friend, don’t you see? We have been lured here in order that these foul blasphemies against nature might bestow upon me this prophecy!
BANQUO: My lord, don’t you think that this is stretching a coincidence a bit far?
MACBETH: Coincidence! Good fellow! This is fate! This is destiny!
BANQUO: (Sighs.) This is unbelievable...
MACBETH: Just so! Now, let us ponder, for only in pondering will we dig through to the bottom of this weighty matter.
BANQUO: Wouldn’t a shovel work better?
BANQUO: Nothing, my lord, just thinking out loud.
MACBETH: Ah. Yes, well... Let us assume our pondering stance. (Strikes pondering stance, tapping forehead.)
MACBETH: Noooooo. Wait! (Snaps fingers.) Let’s take this one step at a time, shall we? What would seem to be our first obstacle?
BANQUO: You mean besides the “weighty matter” you spoke of earlier?
MACBETH: (Excitedly.) Yes. Think man think!
BANQUO: Am I to assume that this is yet another rhetorical question and that you once again have the answer at hand?
MACBETH: I do! Would you like to hear it?
BANQUO: I am aquiver with anticipation.
MACBETH: Very well, it is this: the Thane of Cawdor still lives.
BANQUO: Why... so he does.
MACBETH: And so long as he lives, he is Thane of Cawdor.
BANQUO: Your powers of deduction are as obtuse as ever, my lord.
MACBETH: Thank you, you’re too kind.
BANQUO: Shall we be off then?
MACBETH: Wait. I’m still pondering. (Begins pacing.)
BANQUO: Ah. Then perhaps I should prepare your headache medicines.
MACBETH: (Waves Banquo away.) It is quite a sticky situation, you know. The Thane of Cawdor still being alive and all...
BANQUO: Happily and healthily...
MACBETH: ...though he is a bit long in the tooth...
BANQUO: He’s 33 this spring.
MACBETH: I suppose he could have a heart attack...
BANQUO: He wrestles boar for sport.
MACBETH: ...or a fatal accident...
BANQUO: He could impale himself on a pig’s tooth.
MACBETH: ...like accidentally stabbing himself in the chest with my sword...
BANQUO: (Heavy sigh.) Oh dear...
MACBETH: (Stops pacing.) And I'm to be king too! (Rubs hands together.) Hoo hoo! I just knew today was going to be good day. I read it in my urine.
BANQUO: You’re reading your urine?
MACBETH: Of course! My advisors say it’s the most scientifically accurate of all the divinatory disciplines.
BANQUO: Three months ago they had you wearing a chicken on your head and hopping on one foot, naked, in the rain.
MACBETH: Yes, and they anticipated my illness quite accurately, didn’t they Mr. Smarty Britches? In any event that technique is quite passé. One must keep up with the times, you know.
BANQUO: Next thing you know they’ll have you drinking your urine.
MACBETH: Well, of course you drink it, how else do you think it’s read? By simply looking at it? Wouldn’t that be helpful. Oh, look, urine... isn’t it uriny. Honestly, good fellow, how you can remain so ignorant in this enlightened age is truly beyond me. Now. What color should I wear for the coronation? I know that purple is all the rage, but it tends to make the veins in my nose stand out...
BANQUO: My lord, excuse me for saying so, but I fear you may be crossing the ravine without a bridge.
MACBETH: How so, my dear skeptical friend? Are these not witches?
BANQUO: Well, that's not too far a stretch...
MACBETH: How then can you doubt, Mr. Doubting Tonsil?
BANQUO: I believe that’s Thomas.
MACBETH: Whatever... All right, in order to put your mind at ease, I'll ask yon bearded monstrosities once again. (Steps toward Witches.) Excuse me, dear hags...
WITCH 1: What now? Are you still here? Go away or we'll turn you into toads.
BANQUO: (Pulling on MacBeth's arm.) Maybe we should go. Green has never been my color...
MACBETH: Nonsense, good fellow. You are in the company of the future king of Scotland!
BANQUO: Be still my heart...
MACBETH: And you forget something. As amazing as it is to believe, they also said that you would be the father of kings...
BANQUO: Ah, that... perhaps we should discuss that...
MACBETH: You heard it with your own ears. I will be king and you will father kings. (Steps forward to address Witches.) Didn't you say that?
WITCH 1: Say what?
MACBETH: That I would be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland and that my lowly friend here would be the father of kings...
WITCH 1: Did I?
MACBETH: Yes, you did! Just moments ago!
WITCH 1: Hm. If I admit that I said it will you go away and leave us alone?
MACBETH: Yes, oh pustulant one! We will leave immediately, if only you will repeat the prophecy.
WITCH 1: What prophecy?
MACBETH: (Exasperated.) That I would be Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland and that my friend here would be the father of kings!
WITCH 1: Oh, that prophecy. All right! You will be Thane of... what was it?
WITCH 1: Cawdor. You will be Thane of Cawdor and your friend will be father of kings. Now, go away!
MACBETH: Wait, you forgot the king part!
WITCH 1: Did not!
MACBETH: Did so! You're supposed to say that I will be the king of Scotland!
WITCH 1: Am I?
MACBETH: Yes, you are!
WITCH 1: Thane of Cawdor's not enough, ey?
MACBETH: No. Well... Yes, of course it is... It's more than I could ever have dreamed of, but... well... you did say that I would be King of Scotland, as well...
WITCH 1: I did.
MACBETH: Yes, you did! Just a moment ago. Listen, you reeking deformity, I'm simply asking you to repeat what you said!
WITCH 1: All right, all right, You will be King of Scotland as well. There, are you happy, now?
MACBETH: At last! Dear... creature... you have made me the happiest man in all of Scotland!
WITCH 1: Yes, well, you're going to be the greenest, squattest, wartiest man in all of Scotland if you don't go away!
MACBETH: Right! Of course! A deal's a deal. Come Banquo! Let us leave these worthy hags to their mischief. Not a bad bit of business, wouldn't you say?
BANQUO: Of course, my lord. I do have but one question.
MACBETH: (Tiredly.) Of course you do. All right, ask...
BANQUO: How, exactly, are you going to bring these prophecies about? Causing the Thane of Cawdor to have an accident is one thing, but the King as well? Don’t you think somebody will become a tad suspicious?
MACBETH: Oh, pish tosh! I can't concern myself with the details right now. A prophecy is a prophecy. I'll discuss it with my lady wife this evening over tea. She'll know what to do.
BANQUO: My lord, is that wise?
MACBETH: Wise? I’m married to the shrew; wisdom has nothing to do with it.
BANQUO: Good point.
MACBETH: She’s been nagging me to ask the King for a raise and I think this should fit the bill nicely. Come now, don't be so glum. You, my exceptionally average friend, are going to be the father of kings! (Exit MacBeth with a flourish.)
BANQUO: I'm sure my boyfriend will be thrilled to hear it... (Exit Banquo glumly.)
WITCH 3: (Sips from spoon.) Baboon's blood, that's what's missing.
WITCH 2: Is not!
WITCH 3: Is so!
WITCH 2: Is not! I distinctly remember putting in three teaspoons of baboon's blood right after the Tartar's lips...
WITCH 1: Pickled Tartar's lips?
WITCH 2: Fresh, of course.
WITCH 1: Hmmm.
WITCH 3: I'm hungry...
WITCH 2: Shut up and stir!
(Lights go down.)
WITCH 3: I should have eaten those two worthless gobs. It's not like anybody would miss 'em.