Below we present the complete text of “Of Eggs and Omelettes”, episode 2 of our new Science Fiction adaptation of Macbeth Amongst the Stars. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (featuring the familiar Shakespearian characters in a against a backdrop of starships, rayguns and intergalactic politics). If you would like to see these new stories advance from being drafts into polished publications then please consider supporting us by purchasing one or more of our previously published titles. Every sale directly funds the production of new stories.
Macbeth Amongst the Stars
EPISODE #2 – OF EGGS AND OMELETTES
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Copyright 2016 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attritubution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition .
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) International license. This play may not be commercially reproduced, performed, or sold. Non-commercial production, performance, and reproduction is allowed under this license so long as attribution is maintained. No derivative content or use is allowed. It can be freely shared in its current form (without change) under this license. If you would like to purchase one or more copies of this work (for your own personal non-commercial use, or to help financially support the author) then please return to http://www.weirdworlstudios.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
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Serial #2: Macbeth Amongst the Stars
General Macbeth and Banquo face down and defeat the traitor Macdonwald in a space battle that saves the empire from alien invasion. However, when they are intercepted by aliens who deliver a cryptic prophecy on their return home, the fire of ambition is lit within Macbeth and he sets out on a bloody quest to seize the empire for himself. In order to succeed Macbeth must navigate terrorist plots, a nano-plague, and even pit himself against his former friends and allies. Will his plans and manoeuvrings help him gain the prize he seeks? Tune in to “Macbeth amongst the stars” and experience this classic tale (now set in a sci-fi future) for yourself.
Episodes in the Host Your Own “Old Time Radio Drama” series are designed to provide a fun dinner party experience for 6–8 participants. Read along, taking on the role of one or more of the characters in the story, and listen as the exciting drama unfolds. This is the theater of the mind, where the special effects are only limited by your imagination, and your participation will build a memory that you’ll treasure for years to come.
Macbeth Amongst the Stars
NARRATOR: The Narrator
DUNCAN: The Emperor of Human Space
MACBETH: General in service to the Emperor
LADY MACBETH: Wife of Macbeth
STUART: People’s representative to the Palace at Cawdor
SOLDIER: Soldier in service to the Emperor
AMBASSADOR: Trade ambassador seeking trade treaties and concessions
SFX: SFX operator (1 required)
SCENE 1: (INT) BUNKER ON CAWDOR (LADY MACBETH, MACBETH, STUART)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME AND TITLE – LET IT FINISH.
- NARRATOR: Having saved the empire of Duncan I (THE FIRST) from destruction at the hands of invaders, Macbeth and Banquo encounter three more aliens that make strange prophecies regarding them. The planet Cawdor will become the protectorate of Macbeth who is named by the oracles as the next Emperor, while Banquo will be promoted to become the protector of the planet Glamis (GLARMS) and will have descendants who sit upon the throne.
- When Macbeth is awarded Cawdor just as was prophesied, he finds the planet is a hotbed of insurrection fomented by the defeated traitor Macdonwald who sided with the invaders.
- SOUND: SIRENS, DISTANT EXPLOSIONS, LASER FIRE – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- LADY MACBETH: I tell you Macbeth; this reeks of treachery.
- MACBETH: Aye, my love, but there’s no need to panic.
- LADY MACBETH: Panic? Who’s panicking? We’re only cowering in a bunker while the capital of Cawdor loses its mind. What’s to panic about?
- MACBETH: This is a trap, a feint, intended to draw them out. They think they have us on the run. I merely want to give Duncan cause to let me declare martial law. We should soon have the rebels right where we want them. Their treachery will be stamped out in short order once I have sufficient power to…
- LADY MACBETH: It is not the rebel’s treachery I’m concerned about.
- MACBETH: What nonsense is this, wife?
- LADY MACBETH: Why do you think Duncan gave you this planet? As tribute for your great deeds? Sometimes I think you’re feeble minded, my husband. He has grown jealous of you. The people of a hundred planets sing your praises because of your part in reversing the recent invasion. He wants you to fail… or better yet, die… on this planet.
- MACBETH: You are insane, woman. Duncan is my cousin. I have known him since childhood. He warned me of the insurrection that awaited me here.
- LADY MACBETH: Then why has he done nothing? You’ve wanted to impose martial law since your arrival. At every turn he has been an impediment and a stumbling block to your attempts at establishing order.
- MACBETH: He listens to the dispatches from that weakling Stuart; constantly counselling peace where a firm hand is needed. He would have the empire drown in love. The fool!
- LADY MACBETH: Speaking of fools. Here comes Stuart now.
- STUART: (BARELY CONTROLLING HIMSELF) General, what have you done? Sending your troops to break up one of the Holy Day parades. It’s a deliberate provocation!
- MACBETH: Is it now? A provocation to what? Acts of lawlessness? Mayhem?
- STUART: You knew this would result in rioting.
- MACBETH: I knew this would reveal the people for what they are, traitors and seditionists.
- STUART: They’re just people and you knew that your heavy-handed provocations would not be tolerated indefinitely. Can’t you see what you’ve wrought? You’ve been forced out of the palace. Your troops are in retreat.
- MACBETH: I will not coddle that rabble any longer. In moments I expect to receive permission from the Emperor to establish Martial Law. Your authority, Stuart, will be at an end. And then we’ll see who the real power on Cawdor is.
- STUART: Wait, what?
- MACBETH: My fleet is massed just beyond orbit. What you perceive as cowardice and defeat is actually a position of supreme strength.
- STUART: The Emperor will hear about this…
- MACBETH: I doubt it, Stuart. Sadly your communications equipment is unaccountably out of order. I sent some of my men to check on it this morning. They report that it has been subject to a most unfortunate act of vandalism. Worse news, all communications have been scrambled as part of the state of emergency created by the riot. The only way to speak with the Emperor right now is via the priority channel that I have kept open… and, sadly, you are not on my list of individuals authorised to make use of it.
- STUART: You planned this. It is your doing. All of it.
- MACBETH: Now, now. It hardly does you credit to be making such wild accusations. It is merely a matter of coincidence that, in the midst of this sudden, and wholly unexpected, emergency you find yourself without an effective means of intervention. After this is all over, I’ll be sure to let the Emperor know that you tried everything in your power to reach him, but were simply unable to do so.
- STUART: This isn’t over, Macbeth!
- MACBETH: That’s General Macbeth, Citizen Liaison Stuart. And you’d best be minding your manners. Anything can happen in the confusion of a civil disturbance. We’d hate for you to fall victim to any unfortunate accidents, wouldn’t we? The people of Cawdor have had so many tragedies to mourn recently, as it is.
- STUART: (SNORTS) Hmpf!
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS DEPART – LET IT FINISH.
- LADY MACBETH: (GIGGLES) Oh, I take it all back. You’re as wily as a snake and twice as dangerous. It was worth it, just to see the look of apoplexy on Stuart’s face… but are you sure this is such a good plan? Even though you are only feigning the appearance of weakness, you do look weak. And if Duncan learns the truth…
- MACBETH: If Duncan learns the truth, I’ll handle it. I can express my regrets over the incident that provoked the uprising, and then use it to emphasise the extent of sedition lying beneath the surface. Believe me, his own insecurity will prevent him from truly trusting in Stuart’s assurances to the contrary, especially in light of our current “appearance of weakness”. (BEAT)
- So long as our weakness is feigned, it is no bad thing, my love. It will bring my enemies out of hiding, it is just the thing to get Duncan in a magnanimous mood, and it will prove a useful tool for establishing our rule here.
- LADY MACBETH: Then, I’ll say no more. It’s a pity we can’t remove Stuart as an impediment at the same time.
- MACBETH: Not yet. He has too much local power. I need to discredit him further in the eyes of Duncan, and establish an alternative system of rule… but his day is coming.
- LADY MACBETH: (LAUGHING) You may yet prove a worthy rival for Duncan, my love.
- MACBETH: What?
- LADY MACBETH: Oh, now don’t tell me you’ve forgotten your brush with destiny? A man who can out-manoeuvre the Emperor himself is surely more worthy of the throne than its current incumbent.
- MACBETH: Quiet, woman. Are you mad! Such thoughts are treasonous in the extreme.
- LADY MACBETH: Is it treason to value the good of the empire ahead of the man who leads it? Think on that, my husband, and we shall talk some more later.
- SOUND: COMMUNICATIONS BEEPING – LET IT FINISH.
- CONTROLLER: This is a priority transmission from Dunsinane control. The Emperor himself wishes to speak with General Macbeth immediately.
- MACBETH: This is general Macbeth. I await the Emperor’s pleasure.
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Macbeth! What the hell is going on down there? I hear that the entire planet is in revolt… and that you yourself have withdrawn into the palace bunker.
- MACBETH: That is true my liege. It appears we underestimated the extent to which Macdonwald’s traitorous infection had established itself within the populace.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Give me a full report.
- MACBETH: A cohort of imperial troops was ambushed in the city. It appears that this was the signal for a widespread uprising and coup. I’m afraid, cousin, that your gentleness with these people has been rewarded with treachery.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) And where is Stuart? He has been successful at settling these matters in the past.
- MACBETH: Large areas of the city are completely blacked out. Rioting is widespread. Many of the militias have gone over to the rebels. There is fighting in the streets of the capital. We have been unable to locate Stuart. He has been of great assistance in the past, but his fate is currently uncertain.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Should you be preparing to evacuate?
- MACBETH: For all the danger, I believe the situation is not yet lost. We need to act now, or risk losing this planet, true… and should even one planet secede from the empire successfully it may establish a precedent that we can little afford.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) What are you asking?
- MACBETH: Grant me the power to establish martial law. If I can bring the fleet in to…
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) No. This is not what I wanted. If we can’t establish order using the local militias and authorities…
- MACBETH: The local authorities and militias were trained and funded by my predecessor Macdonwald. They are a hotbed of sedition. Cousin, I know you wanted to avoid military action, but the locals are incapable of the action that is required. I implore you, we stand on the verge of losing the planet entirely. Grant me the power to re-establish order. We can still redeem this situation.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) All right, Macbeth. Have it your way. Good luck to you, and if you survive this, we’ll speak again. Duncan out!
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH
- MACBETH: (CHUCKLES THEN BEGINS TO LAUGH MORE AND MORE UPROARIOUSLY) Hmpf. Ha ha. Hahahahahaha!
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH
SCENE 2: (INT) CAWDOR PALACE (MACBETH, AMBASSADOR, SOLDIER, STUART)
- MUSIC: LIGHT CLASSICAL MUSIC – FADE IN, ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- TRADE AMABASSADOR: Congratulations, General. It seems that you have restored order on Cawdor in fairly short order.
- MACBETH: Thankyou, Ambassador. I appreciate this vote of confidence from the trade block.
- AMBASSADOR: Rebellion is so… disruptive. For trade to flourish we require an environment that is stable, peaceful, and law abiding.
- MACBETH: Especially where those laws support your own ends. I note that you were quite unable to contain your glee over the apparent destruction of the constitutional government of the second commercial city of Lonabar recently. Without their constitutional protections you will no longer have to “negotiate” with their leaders for your trade concessions, isn’t that right?
- AMBASSADOR: You can hardly fault us for rejoicing that those unfair restrictions on our trading activities have been removed.
- MACBETH: And the fact that the charges that led to the suspension of the government were found, in the end, to have been trumped up, bothers you not a bit?
- AMBASSADOR: Well, General, of course, one deplores the…
- SOUND: HURRIED FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING – LET IT FINISH.
- SOLDIER: General, I have news to report.
- MACBETH: (ANNOYED AT THE INTERRUPTION) Out with it man! There’s no need for prevarication.
- SOLDIER: The rebels we were pursuing disappeared into the crowds. It looks like the people of Inverness City are hiding them.
- MACBETH: Is that so? I think, then, that it is time we showed people what they risk when aiding these terrorists.
- SOLDIER: Sir?
- MACBETH: How many people are there in the city of Inverness?
- SOLDIER: It is not a large city… perhaps about three million souls.
- MACBETH: Make it known that harbouring criminals will no longer be tolerated. I want an orbital strike made against the city immediately following the announcement.
- SOLDIER: General?
- MACBETH: Is there a problem, commander?
- SOLDIER: Er, no sir! Your orders will be carried out immediately. (BEAT) Uh, General, I was asked to inform you that Citizen Liaison Stuart is waiting outside.
- MACBETH: Good, send him in.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS DEPART – LET IT FINISH.
- SOLDIER: (AT A GREAT DISTANCE) The General will see you now.
- SOUND: SLOW FOOTSTEPS – LET IT FINISH.
- STUART: (COLDLY) You summoned me, general.
- MACBETH: It seems I have need of your help, Stuart.
- STUART: My help? I have been unable to access your august presence for the last five weeks. What possible help could you want from me?
- MACBETH: Well, perhaps help is too strong a word. (BEAT) It seems that the Emperor is very pleased with the way I have been able to bring the planet into line.
- STUART: A graveyard provides little noise.
- MACBETH: Just so. (BEAT) And as a result, there is, sadly, no reason to keep the liaison position open.
- STUART: You can’t… Our charter with the Emperor…
- MACBETH: Your charter was suspended the moment martial law was instituted. It is unlikely to be reinstated while the current emergency persists…
- STUART: And I’m sure you’ll see to it that no reinstatement occurs, regardless.
- MACBETH: I see you get my drift. Duncan is beginning to question the value of these little democratic experiments that have been springing up around the empire. With Macdonwald’s defection and your own failure to bring the planet back into line…
- STUART: Why you…
- MACBETH: He is coming to see the value in the provision of a firm guiding hand.
- STUART: Tyranny, you mean!
- MACBETH: Oh, do be careful, Stuart. It is not good form to be heard to call the Emperor a tyrant in the presence of one of his military governors.
- STUART: You disgust me, General Macbeth. Well, what is it now? Am I to be arrested and disappeared into one of your “re-education” camps?
- MACBETH: Oh, no. You’ll be watched of course… and most carefully. I might drag you out for the occasional public relations exercise, but no, you’ll be more or less free.
- STUART: Why? And what makes you think I’ll cooperate?
- MACBETH: You have a wife and two daughters, don’t you Stuart? It would be a shame for anything to happen to them. I doubt you’d be foolish enough to put them at risk by failing to cooperate. As for why? Well, it is simply that it gives me great pleasure to know that you have been rendered impotent – like a dog that has been neutered and brought to heel. This will be our last audience, Stuart. You are dismissed.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS BEGIN – LET THEM FINISH.
- MACBETH: Uh, Stuart?
- STUART: Yes, General?
- MACBETH: Aren’t you forgetting something?
- STUART: (BEATEN) Thankyou General.
- MACBETH: (CHUCKLES).
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS DEPART – FADE OUT.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 3: (EXT) COMMUNICATIONS ROOM, PALACE OF CAWDOR (MACBETH, DUNCAN, LADY MACBETH, MALCOLM, MACDUFF)
- SOUND: HURRIED FOOTSTEPS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- LADY MACBETH: (PANICKED) I’m telling you it’s him. The fleet turned up on the scanners, 10 minutes ago. And they are coming this way.
- MACBETH: That doesn’t mean he wishes us harm.
- LADY MACBETH: Why wouldn’t he send word? It’s an attack. Duncan wasn’t happy about the way you put down the rebellion.
- MACBETH: You don’t know that.
- LADY MACBETH: Husband, call your forces to action stations.
- MACBETH: Stop it! If we make a show of force, and you are mistaken, he will have the excuse he needs to order our destruction.
- LADY MACBETH: Duncan is our enemy! When will you accept this?
- MACBETH: Not today, at any rate. I’m going to send a message. Now hush, we’re going into the communications center.
- SOUND: DOOR SLIDING OPEN – LET It FINISH
- MACBETH: Control, give me a channel to the approaching fleet.
- GUARD: Yes General.
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
- GUARD: Your channel is clear.
- MACBETH: This is General Macbeth to approaching fleet. Please identify yourself.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Oh, Cousin, you’ve spoiled my fun. I bet the cook we’d get way closer than this before you hailed us.
- MACBETH: Emperor, it’s an honour. What brings you to this little backwater of your empire.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) (MOCKINGLY SUSPICIOUS) Is that really you, cousin? You’re being surprisingly formal.
- MACBETH: I’m trying to determine whether I’ll need to get the spare bedroom ready to accept your drunken carcass. We’ve barely managed to remove the smell since last time.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) That’s more like it! I’m doing a tour of the empire and figured I’d visit my favourite cousin. We’re “incognito”.
- MACBETH: Just like you to consider a fleet of nearly 30 ships an attempt at travelling incognito.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) It’s these blasted Generals. They keep ruining all my fun. Everywhere I go they insist on providing an honour guard. They caught up with me at Lochaber (LOCK-ARBOR), followed me all the way to Glamis (GLARMS), and won’t leave me be til I am safely ensconced with you at Cawdor. If it wasn’t for them I bet I’d just about have been able to land planet side and you’d never have known I’d arrived. (SIGHS) But as it is, they’ve cost me one of your Cawdorian Pigs.
- MACBETH: They’ve cost you one of my pigs?
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Well, I am Emperor. What’s yours is mine cousin. And you’d best prepare that guest room. I’ll be with you shortly. Now that I’m safe in your care, I feel confident that my over protective honour guard can take their sycophantic selves away to a respectful distance.
- MACBETH: Come ahead. You are, as always, welcome in our home. Gruoch sends her love.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) You made a good choice there, cousin. Any sign of an heir, yet?
- MACBETH: No, my Emperor. Not yet.
- DUNCAN: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Ah, well. There’s plenty of time. But while I’m speaking of heirs, I will have Malcolm with me, and general Macduff is in attendance as his bodyguard. I’ll see you shortly. (BEAT) And have one of those pigs ready for me. Emperor out!
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: Come wife. We need to prepare for the Emperor’s arrival.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS – DOOR SLIDES OPEN – FOOTSTEPS – DOOR SLIDES CLOSED – LET IT FINISH
- LADY MACBETH: (MOCKING) Gruoch sends her love! The only thing I’d like to send that fat pig of a cousin of yours is…
- MACBETH: Stop it. I know he’s annoying when he tries to be jovial, but you were wrong. He means us no harm and he is still the Emperor. He is just coming for a visit.
- LADY MACBETH: (SCORNFUL) You think? He told you he’d been to Lochaber (LOCK-ARBOR), and Glamis (GLARMS), before coming here. What if Banquo spoke about the prophecy?
- MACBETH: Banquo is my best friend… and he doesn’t even believe in the prophecy.
- LADY MACBETH: So he says. But ambition may change any man. (BEAT) Whether he believes in it or not, Banquo may yet try to profit by it. Removing you would give him Cawdor. He has more to gain through betrayal than you. And so you should not be foolish and trust to mere friendship.
- MACBETH: Away with you woman! I need you to prepare for the Emperor’s arrival not fill my head with poisonous thoughts about my friends. And don’t forget the pig.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 4: (INT) MACBETH’S BEDROOM – AFTER THE FEAST (MACBETH, LADY MACBETH)
- MACBETH: I’m ruinously tired after all that feasting. Let’s go to bed, dear heart.
- LADY MACBETH: Not yet, I want to talk to you about something that has been playing on my mind.
- MACBETH: Now, Gruoch? I’m tired.
- LADY MACBETH: Stop your whining. This can’t wait.
- MACBETH: Alright, what is it?
- LADY MACBETH: It’s regarding the prophecy…
- MACBETH: Not that again! We have enough to worry about with Duncan in the house without rehashing all of that. Let the prophecy take care of itself for one night. It has done well by us so far without our deliberations affecting it one jot. Can we not let it continue to do so until morning?
- LADY MACBETH: No. For that is just my point. Tonight Duncan sleeps in our house and home. He is secure, or so he believes, amongst trusted friends. You will never have so good an opportunity to seize the empire as this. Couldn’t this be the very moment you have awaited?
- MACBETH: Are you mad? Murder? You wanted me to try and take on the entire imperial fleet earlier today, and now you want me to murder Duncan in our own home. (BEAT) You are mad!
- LADY MACBETH: Don’t pretend for a moment you hold Duncan in any high regard. His competence as an Emperor is as questionable as his greed at the table is obvious. You have outsmarted him on more than one occasion recently and he would likely not be Emperor at all if you hadn’t saved him from the results of Macdonwald’s treachery.
- MACBETH: What are you saying?
- LADY MACBETH: Just what I have always said, my love. That you would make a far greater and more effective Emperor than he. It is only an accident of birth that placed Duncan on the throne ahead of you. (BEAT) And if you won’t think of yourself, then consider our empire. Can it really be best to have this glutton on the throne when a more able man stands ready? Are the interests of the empire best served by tolerating the leadership of a buffoon?
- MACBETH: Don’t under-estimate Duncan. He only plays the buffoon. And the empire has prospered and expanded widely under his leadership.
- LADY MACBETH: I don’t under-estimate him at all. He has a native rat cunning that we overlook at our peril. He is jealous of you, my husband. He knows how strong and popular you have become. He granted you this world because of your capacity to lead, but had you failed in putting down the rebellion, that would have suited Duncan’s purpose just as well. He knows the two of you must face off against each other one day. And if he knows this, then why not bow to the inevitable and pick a day of your own choosing – this day, this very night.
- MACBETH: And what would you have me do?
- LADY MACBETH: What would I..? (ANGRY) Are you even a man? War and strategy are your bread and butter! I should be asking you how it could be accomplished, not the other way around. (MORE GENTLY) My husband, you have all the cunning you need to see this done. You can do it in such a way that no one will suspect you of wrongdoing. Think!
- MACBETH: I suppose we could blame it on a remnant of Macdonwald’s men. Perhaps Stuart could be made to fit the frame.
- LADY MACBETH: Stuart, of course! He’s made to order. And he is known to have had the Emperor’s ear.
- MACBETH: We need to deal with Duncan’s personal guard, however.
- LADY MACBETH: Leave that to me! I’ll send them some wine, mixed with a little something that grows wild on this world. They’ll not refuse to drink a toast to the Emperor with the Lady of the house. They will be asleep in a blink of the eye.
- MACBETH: Ah, but that still leaves Malcolm. He is next in line for the throne. But wait. I don’t want you to drug the guards.
- LADY MACBETH: But husband, we’ve already talked about this. Don’t lose your nerve now!
- MACBETH: No, you misunderstand. Send the drink, but make a show, very publicly, that it has come from Malcolm. That will throw suspicion upon him and, when the thing is done, allow us to deal swiftly with Duncan’s whelp.
- LADY MACBETH: Now there’s the husband that I know and love. But how is the deed itself to be done?
- MACBETH: Duncan sleeps like the dead. With his guards asleep he will suspect nothing. A bomb, I think, would be the best way to do it. Suicide bombings have recently become the rebel’s signature method of carrying out mayhem. If, when you are arranging the drinks for Duncan’s men, you also make it known how surprised you are that Duncan has summoned Citizen Liaison Stuart to his chamber so late… Well, that should be enough to furnish us with some witnesses. If we place a device on Stuart’s body…
- LADY MACBETH: He’ll be executed first, then?
- MACBETH: Yes, and I’ll take great pleasure in ordering it done. The man has been a thorn in my side since we arrived here. Humiliating him was enjoyable, but it still stuck in my throat that I had to spare his life. This will go somewhat towards balancing the scales.
- LADY MACBETH: Haha! You are as clever as I had hoped. You needed but a little prompting to let your true gift for strategy show. (BEAT) But what of Duncan’s ring?
- MACBETH: What of it?
- LADY MACBETH: The ring is the symbol of his authority to rule. You can’t risk its destruction in the explosion.
- MACBETH: I can’t risk an attempt at recovering it prior to setting off the bomb. It is just too risky.
- LADY MACBETH: Coward! Does uncontested authority mean so little to you?
- MACBETH: Authority does not lie in trinkets.
- LADY MACBETH: You have a great mind for strategy, Macbeth, but you have never properly understood the importance of symbols.
- MACBETH: Bah!
- LADY MACBETH: Then, if you will not do it, I will take care of it.
- MACBETH: What, you?
- LADY MACBETH: Yes, of course me! If you will not play the man, then it falls to me to do your part.
- MACBETH: Nonsense. What experience with killing does a woman have?
- LADY MACBETH: I slaughtered that pig your gluttonous cousin so enjoyed this evening with my own hands. It would be a pleasure to do the same to your “dear” Emperor. Once it is done I will cut the ring from his finger and return to you so that you can destroy the evidence with your little bomb.
- MACBETH: No! You’re insane, Gruoch! The things you say highlight the madness of this scheme. I can’t believe I let go of my senses enough to consider this course of action for this long.
- LADY MACBETH: I can do this, husband, as surely as I stand here. You are mistaken if you think I lack the courage or stomach for it.
- MACBETH: I doubt you will even get as far as the door.
- LADY MACBETH: Watch for me. And make the arrangements necessary for your part in this deed. When I return with the ring, or if, as you fear, I haven’t the courage and return without it, you must be ready with the bomb and our patsy.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS AND DOOR SLIDES OPEN THEN CLOSED – LET IT FINISH.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 5: (INT) MACBETH’S BEDROOM (MACBETH, LADY MACBETH)
- SOUND: KNOCKING – LET IT FINISH.
- LADY MACBETH: (TREMBLING AND AFRAID) Open the door, husband. Let me in!
- MACBETH: Ha ha. I knew you’d lose your…
- SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: Hell’s flaming pits! Come inside. What happened? Are we discovered? You’re covered in blood.
- SOUND: DOOR SLIDES CLOSED – LET IT FINISH.
- LADY MACBETH: (RELIEVED) No we’re NOT discovered. I did the job. I never knew a man could hold so much blood. Here, I have the ring.
- MACBETH: (HORRIFIED) It’s still on his finger.
- LADY MACBETH: Then take it off… and take the finger back to his room with the bomb and Stuart’s corpse. Place the ring somewhere that will keep it safe from the blast, but where it can still be conveniently “found” later. I need to clean up this blood. (SUDDENLY SUSPICIOUS) You haven’t lost your nerve have you?
- MACBETH: (RECOVERING) I haven’t. But did you walk through the palace like that?
- LADY MACBETH: I did. But no one saw me. Now get it done.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 6: (EXT) PLANET CAWDOR
- SOUND: (LONG BEAT) THEN EXPLOSION – FOLLOWED BY SIRENS, ALARMS, ETC. – FADE OUT
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS – LET IT FINISH.
CASTING SHEETS – MAJOR CHARACTERS
MACBETH (A BEAR OF A MAN WITH LITTLE SELF-AWARENESS AND A STRONG AND BOMBASTIC MANNER OF SPEECH WHO ENJOYS A GOOD FIGHT – A CROSS BETWEEN BRIAN BLESSED AND BILLY CONNOLLY): I am Macbeth; loyal, capable, cunning. I don’t tolerate nonsense or second-guessing from anyone. I am a man of action, first and foremost, and I don’t have time for prissy little milk-sops who want to waste time on empty words. So, speak up! What is it that you want?
LADY MACBETH (SMART, AMBITIOUS, RUTHLESS AND A LITTLE PRONE TO PARANOIA): Do I know you? Who sent you? The palace is full of gossips and weaklings; small-minded women who plot and scheme. I’ll not be taken for one of those simpletons. Return to your master or mistress and give them this message – you’ll pick up no juicy tid-bits of gossip from me… But have a care. If I ever find you snooping around my apartments again, I will have the skin off your back as an example of what happens to those who cross me. The only one of you to whom I’d give the time of day is my cousin, Marissa. Why she married that bumbling fool, Macduff, is quite beyond me.
DUNCAN (VERY LIKE MACBETH BUT MORE JOVIAL): I am Emperor of all of human space. I spent my youth doing what a young man should; fighting, carousing, making war! They say I’m something of a gourmand (a selfish pig, they mean, ha ha). Well, I like my food. What of it? A man of action stuck sitting in committees listening to the buzzing of all these educated insects that live off me and call themselves “advisors”, can’t be expected to get by without a few little comforts now, can he? My aim is to expand this empire across the known galaxy. (BEAT) Ah, but here comes the roast pig, now.
STUART (FRUSTRATED, A GOOD MAN IN A DIFFICULT JOB, A BIT NAIVE): Yes, citizen, that’s right, I am Cawdor’s Citizen Liaison to General Macbeth. Now, what can I do for you? (BEAT) (SIGHS) No, I’m not sure that will be possible. The new regime sees us as an ungrateful rabble. General Macdonwald’s treason reflects badly on us all. (BEAT) No, I’m not sure I can convince General Macbeth to lift the travel restrictions. And yes, I understand you can’t afford to pay your workers while your goods are stranded on the docks. (BEAT) Don’t be a fool man. What will rioting achieve? Look, I have some favour in the imperial court, perhaps I can settle the situation down.
CASTING SHEETS — MINOR CHARACTERS
SOLDIERS (GENERIC): I’m a soldier. I do what I’m told, when I’m told. And I don’t complain. Go here, do this. Go there, do that. I follow my orders.
AMBASSADOR (AMBITIOUS, PUSHY, SELF-SEEKING, AND ARROGANT): Your highness, you have kept me waiting for three hours. This matter of the tariffs you have applied to our importation of hog flavoured condiments is of the utmost importance and my government demands you reconsider it, immediately.
NARRATOR (A TRUSTWORTHY, RELIABLE, POSSIBLY ENGLISH VOICE – THE KIND YOU WOULD TRUST TO SELL CHILDREN’S PHARMACEUTICALS: I bring the audience up to speed on what has happened in previous episodes. I relish the telling, a little like the hosts of the horror anthologies of the past. I try to convey a ghoulish enthusiasm for the story to the audience.
Writer’s Notes – for students and teachers
The events of Macbeth existed fully formed in Shakespeare’s original work. As a result there was not much need for dramatic invention in the construction of this play. The scenes had their own conflict etc. built in. However, a challenge still remained, and some considerable thought was given, with regard to how best adapt the work to a science fiction setting.
The question of how to effectively parallel and remain true to the themes and meaning built into Shakespeare’s work within a scifi setting, and how to communicate the work to a contemporary audience who would not share the social and historical context that made much of the work sensible to its original hearers and informs the understanding of modern audiences, especially where that context has been deliberately replaced with a futuristic setting, remained central in my approach.
In its original setting Macbeth is a politically conservative work, written to curry favour with a newly established monarch, James I, who has just survived the gunpowder plot. There is some reason to believe that Shakespeare was genuinely fearful of failing to be seen to be a supporter of the new King since there was, in fact, some connection between the conspirators who had tried to blow up parliament and his father’s family.
James I was a descendant of Banquo, and Macbeth serves as a polemic both in defense of the status quo and as an attack upon the notion of regicide and rebellion. In it, nature itself is turned upon its head by the death of Duncan. The murder of a king is portrayed as so “unnatural” an act that the natural world is rendered unnatural in response.
The three witches in the original work, are a curious amalgam of the Greek fates, and the popular notion of witchcraft (a topic with which King James was fascinated).
In this version of Macbeth I have tried to maintain both of these elements of the story. I introduce a “nano-blight” – a mutating plague that spreads in the background of the story – to stand in for Shakespeare’s perverted natural order. The witches, and their commitment to an upside down morality and world order have been replaced with a more overtly fate-like trio of aliens – one representing the past, one representing the present, and one representing the future. This choice was made because, in the view of this author, the witches ultimately undermine their own commitment to the perverted natural order by facilitating Macbeth’s downfall, actions more consonant with the fates than the proposed philosophical commitment of witchcraft in Shakespeare’s work.
Planets were substituted for castles and, after some thought, Birnham Wood was altered to Birnham asteroid field, allowing an asteroid bombardment to be used to represent the coming of the forest to Dunsinane.
The science fiction setting allowed the use of cloning to take the place of caesarean section as the means by which Macbeth’s nemesis managed to be “not born of woman”.
Lastly, I took one final liberty with the original text and made Fleance a woman. While the original audience were aware that James I was the descendant of Banquo (via marriage at some future time into Duncan’s line) and fulfilled the witches’ prophecies, the relationship of Banquo’s descendents to a future throne needed more immediate establishment in a scence fiction setting. By making Fleance female it became possible to explicitly place those descendants on the throne via a marriage between Duncan’s heir, Malcolm, and Fleance (now transformed into a female character).
Having established the broad, iconic, parameters of the play, along with their parallels, it was now easier to introduce original scenes (and modify traditional scenes), create new characters, and create new events that served the telling of the story, and revealed the deeper nature of the protagonists. Despite some new twists, characters, etc. Macbeth remains a tale of “o’er-leaping ambition” and the perils of the Machiavellian “will to power”.
Since I have been arrogant enough to attempt to adapt a master-work of English literature in this way (and worse to subject it to substantial alteration) I deserve anything I get in terms of “hate” from those who love the original. An attempt like this can’t help but offend many, but , I hope, there will be a few that forgive me and end up enjoying my attempt at imagining my favourite of Shakespeare’s stories, itself an adaptation of material found in Hollinshead’s Chronicles (in turn based on even older material), transplanted into the far future.
Except where noted above, there’s no reason that any of the major (non-lead) or minor characters should be necessarily male or female roles. The aliens, Stuart, Ross, Angus, and the Spy, though written as men, could easily be changed to female roles with a modification of pronouns.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and in general make his life worth living.
You can contact the author regarding performance rights (or simply to say hello) through his website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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This post and all its content is copyright © 2013 Philip Craig Robotham and has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. This play cannot be reproduced, shared, or performed commercially without the written permission of the author. The production of derivative content, merchandise, or creative works and materials is expressly forbidden under this agreement. However you may share, reproduce, and perform this play freely so long as authorship is acknowledged, no money changes hands, and the play is not modified in any way.