Synopsis: S4K Macbeth

Synopsis of Shakespeare 4 Kidz MACBETH

Rumbling Thunder sets the mood for the opening of the show.

Three figures emerge from the shadows. They are three Witches – or Weird Sisters – foretellers of the future (The Opening). They look forward to meeting Macbeth.

At King Duncan’s camp near Forres, a wounded sergeant tells of Macbeth’s heroics in battles against Macdonald and the rebels, while Ross reports that King Sweno of Norway and the traitorous Thane of Cawdor have also been defeated by Macbeth. The witches wait on the Blasted Heath (Weird Sisters), and meet up with Macbeth and a fellow warrior, Banquo, as they return to Duncan’s camp. They hail Macbeth and Banquo with three prophecies, then disappear into the air. Macbeth is already Thane of Glamis (the first prophecy) and is astonished when he is suddenly made Thane of Cawdor (the second) and wonders whether he will soon be King (the third). At the Royal Palace at Forres, Macbeth hears the announcement that Prince Malcolm, Duncan’s eldest son, will be heir to the throne.

If his ambition to become king is achieved, Macbeth realizes that at least two people must now die. He sends his wife the news in a letter. As she reads it she is told that the King is to visit Macbeth’s castle, and develops a plan to murder him (Better Leave It Up to Me). She summons up help from evil spirits to make her strong like a man. Macbeth returns and decides that he doesn’t want to go through with his wife’s plot to murder the King after all (How Do You Murder a King?) She changes his mind.

As he prepares to commit the murder, he imagines he sees a dagger before his eyes. He kills the King but forgets to leave the guards’ daggers at the scene as planned. Lady Macbeth takes them herself, and smears blood on the guards’ faces to make it appear that they did the deed.

The Porter – somewhat hungover from the previous night’s reveling – talks about “equivocators” (Knock! Knock! Knock!), and eventually answers the knocking at the castle gate. Macduff discovers the murdered King, and immediately suspects Macbeth. Prince Malcolm and Prince Donalbain flee the country. Malcolm goes to England and Donalbain to Ireland.

Macbeth is pronounced King, but still worries that Banquo (and his children) will be a threat to his throne, so arranges for them to be murdered (Banquo Must Go!). Assisted by a mysterious third murderer, two men kill Banquo – however, Fleance escapes.

At the Banquet to celebrate Macbeth’s coronation (Land of the Celts; Scotland Forever) Banquo’s Ghost returns to haunt Macbeth. Macbeth decides he must return to the witches for help. Hecate the Goddess of Witchcraft is angry that the Witches have interfered with Macbeth’s destiny without her permission. She promises to spend the night watching Macbeth’s death (Black Spirits).

(The Hecate passages and the song Black Spirits were thought to be additions by Thomas Middleton, from his play The Witch written about five years after Shakespeare wrote Macbeth.) He hears three more prophesies, that are more like riddles. The witches warn him to beware of Macduff, that no man “born of a woman” can harm him, and that he will never be beaten until Birnam Wood itself rises up against him.

Lady Macduff is angry that her husband has fled to England leaving his family unprotected (My Pretty One). Macbeth orders the capture of Macduff’s castle and the murder of his wife and children.

Macduff meets up with Malcolm who is staying with King Edward the Confessor in England. But Malcolm, suspecting Macduff to be one of Macbeth’s spies, tests his loyalty by pretending he would be a more evil King than Macbeth. (No one More Evil Than Me). Seeing Macduff’s reaction, Malcolm realises he can trust him after all. Ross arrives and reports that Macduff’s family have been slain by Macbeth’s men. Macduff vows to kill Macbeth, and the three men prepare to march on Scotland (From Today).

Lady Macbeth is haunted by the wicked deeds. She sleepwalks and is overheard by her Gentlewoman and a Doctor talking about the evil she has committed with her husband. (Out Damned Spot!)

The Scottish rebels and the English army meet near Birnam Wood. They cut down branches to hide the size of their army. Macbeth hears that his wife has died, and realises that life is short, and there’s nothing anyone can do to control it. He prepares for battle. Although two of the witches latest warnings appear to have come true, Macbeth still believes he is invincible as “no man born of a woman can harm him”. He is horrified to hear Macduff declare he wasn’t born in the usual way but by a Caesarean birth.

In the final duel to the death Macbeth is killed by Macduff (The Final Battle). Malcolm is declared King, as everyone looks forward to a brighter future for Scotland (From Today).

 
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