I never cease to be amazed at just how prescient and perceptive Shakespeare was, and how the course of human affairs recurrently follows along very similar patterns of behaviour that transfer seamlessly from Medieval Scotland in the 11th Century to Elizabethan England, and then to the Australian political scene 400 years thereafter.
Whether it be in the echoes of the tragic demise of Julius Caesar found in Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent political “assassination” (as I have satirised in my parliamentary pantomime: “The Tragedy of Julia Caesar”, found elsewhere on this blog site), or with current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his uncanny similarities to the famous Scottish usurper Macbeth as I have dramatised below, it is the universality of the foibles and frailties found within our collective human natures through time that is most intriguing and amusing to me.
Please note, I have included some helpful footnotes within the text that are then listed below the body of the play, particularly for the politically uninitiated and non-Australian readers, that explain most of the allusions and sundry intricacies concealed or referred to within the text. The play as I have written it, as you will no doubt notice, contains more than a smattering of unexpurgated Shakespeare where it was either deemed unavoidable, or was otherwise appropriate to promote my overall purpose, while some passages have been altered (often markedly) from the original text for dramatic and satirical effect. I have also blended into the play entirely original passages of my own devising that interweave the various intrigues of our current Australian political situation to further reinforce my assertion regarding Malcolm Turnbull’s ascension bearing many similarities to Macbeth’s actions in seizing power from the rightful ruler.
To quote Shakespeare at his best:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
With that in mind, what follows, dear reader, is just such a tale.
And I am, as the following readily attests, just the idiot to bring it to you.
The Tragedy of Macbeth:
A Comedy of Political Ambition Gone Awry
Macbeth is the ultra-wealthy thane of the palatial Glamis Castle, situated within earshot of an idyllic place known as the Pipers’ Point1, to be found somewhere in the wilds of the Scottish highlands. He is led to the most dastardly and treasonous thoughts by the flattery and half-baked prophecies of three witches2, thoughts that would soon become especially conspicuous indeed once their prophecy that Macbeth will be made Thane of Cawdor3 comes miraculously true. He is a powerful yet fatally self-important man, with a born-to-rule mentality and an over-inflated ego, lacking completely in humility or grace. He is therefore easily tempted into treason and murder to fulfill his ambitions to the throne, and once he is crowned King, he embarks on yet further atrocities to consolidate his albeit slender grip on power. Ultimately, Macbeth proves himself much better suited to the Machiavellian intrigue of politics than to meaningful or substantive policy. He lacks the skills necessary to rule without constantly undermining friend and foe alike to protect his position, or else to cover for his litany of failures, let alone (heaven forbid) to serve his subjects to improve their general wealth and prosperity … MALCOLM TURNBULL
Lady Macbeth –
Macbeth’s wife, and a deeply ambitious woman who remorselessly lusts for both power and position. Initially, she seems to be both strong and capable in her role, that is until her true colours are revealed as she urges Macbeth (Turnbull) to kill the king (Abbott) and seize the crown. After the bloodshed begins, however, Lady Macbeth falls victim first to the conspicuous narcissism that attends those who court the spotlight for the glamour of fame and position4, then to guilt over her misdeeds, until finally she descends into the dark realms of madness. Her conscience, such that it is, affects her to such an extent that she eventually dies a broken woman, no doubt in no small part as she comprehends the damage she has wrought both to her reputation and, irrevocably, to her sovereign nation … JULIE BISHOP
The Three Witches –
Three “black and midnight hags” who plot mischief against Macbeth (Turnbull) using charms, spells, and prophesies, in only the finest soothsaying (or journalistic in the modern idiom) tradition5 of course! Their conniving and devious predictions prompt him first to murder his King (Abbott), then to order the deaths of his friend Banquo (Morrison) and his son Fleance (Cormann), and finally to believe blindly in his own infallibility and even immortality. Just as destiny was guided by the Fates in Greek mythology, these denizens of the medieval equivalent of the fourth estate impersonally weave the threads of political destiny to their own ends, and clearly take a perverse delight in using their dark arts to toy with and destroy the noblest and most virtuous of human beings6 in favour of promoting the shallow, the pretentious and the ignoble … NIKKI SAVVA, PETER HARTCHER, and LAURIE OAKES
A once brave and noble general, famed for his hard won battles against invading hordes7, and whose children, according to the witches’ prophecy, will one day inherit the throne8. Like his friend Macbeth, Banquo has highly ambitious thoughts, but he (to his credit) does not immediately translate those thoughts directly into action, but nor does he (to his personal shame) intervene to prevent Macbeth bringing his ambitious treachery to fruition, a fatal flaw that ultimately leads to his demise9… SCOTT MORRISON
King Duncan –
The rightful King of Scotland, whom Macbeth murders in his ambition to usurp the crown. The King, while not without his flaws, is the very model of a virtuous, benevolent, and farsighted ruler10. His ignominious death at the hand of an unscrupulous and blood-thirsty usurper symbolizes the destruction of an order that can be restored only when the king’s line of succession, in the person of Malcolm (Hastie), once more occupies the throne … TONY ABBOTT
The Thane of Fife, a nobleman who is hostile to Macbeth’s ascent to the throne from the very beginning, a hostility that grows ever more violent as the truth of his misdeeds come to the fore, and finally reaching its crescendo with the brutal murder of his wife and children. He eventually becomes a leader of the crusade to unseat Macbeth and to place the rightful heir, Malcolm (Hastie), upon the throne of Scotland … CORY BERNARDI
The son of Duncan (Abbott) whose restoration to the throne signals Scotland’s return to order following Macbeth’s reign of terror. Malcolm becomes a serious challenge to Macbeth with Macduff’s (Bernardi) aid. Prior to this, he appears weak and uncertain of his own power, as when he and Donalbain (Taylor) flee initially after their father’s murder … ANDREW HASTIE
The goddess of witchcraft, who helps the three witches work their mischief on Macbeth11, leading to the death of the King (Abbott) and the removal of the rightful line of succession to the throne … BRONWYN BISHOP
Banquo’s (Morrison) son, who survives Macbeth’s attempt to murder him. At the end of the play, Fleance’s precise whereabouts are unknown. Presumably, he may come to rule eventually, thereby fulfilling the witches’ prophecy that Banquo’s (Morrison’s) sons will eventually sit upon the throne … MATHIAS CORMANN
Lady Macduff –
Macduff’s wife. The scene in her castle provides our only glimpse of a domestic realm other than that of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. She and her home serve as contrasts to Lady Macbeth and the hellish world in which that conspiratorial couple reside … PETA CREDLIN
The Murderers –
A group of ruffians conscripted by Macbeth12 to murder Banquo (Morrison), Fleance (Cormann)- whom they fail to kill, and Macduff’s wife (Credlin) and children. A looser collection of disloyal, spiteful, self-serving and spineless backstabbers you could never hope to meet … CHRISTOPHER PYNE, ARTHUR SINODINOS, MAL BROUGH, IAN McFARLANE and GEORGE BRANDIS, among others.
Duncan’s (Abbott) son and Malcolm’s (Hastie’s) younger brother … ANGUS TAYLOR
Drunken doorman of Macbeth’s castle … CLIVE PALMER
A General loyal to Duncan … BARNABY JOYCE
A Soldier … MARK TEXTOR
An English General … ANDREW ROBB
First Apparition … TONY ABBOTT
Second Apparition … JULIA GILLARD
Third Apparition … KEVIN RUDD
Act I Scene 1:
This is a chronicle of Macbeth, a man of little substance, a hollow man who aspires well above his limited capabilities and station, and is driven by an excess of vainglory and hubris to commit the most foul and heinous betrayal, merely in the service of his ruthless and predatory ambition. It is a betrayal not just of a noble gentleman in King Duncan, a man who embodies all of the qualities Macbeth so sorely lacks, but also of a nation and, more importantly, its people. In the hurly-burly13 of political conflict, it is invariably the interests of the common folk, those people that all true good leaders are meant to serve, that suffer most at the hands of the vaulting ambition of men such as Macbeth.
Our story begins shortly after a period of great upheaval in Scotland, with 6 years of chaos14 marred by incessant infighting and seemingly endless scheming and devious machinations that often come as a consequence of bitterly disputed rule. The source of this division came from those aligned with, and loyal to the sly and manipulative Gillard the Red15, who stood opposed to a grandiose and narcissistic fop, in the guise of Kevin of the obscure clan of MacRudd16. Through their mutual actions, these pretenders to the throne managed to thoroughly debase the noble position of monarch17 to its lowest ebb, with underhanded political intrigue and recurring coups d’etat18 becoming the order of the day, thus causing the kingdom to fall precipitously into disarray, as solemn duty to the populace became altogether secondary to a generalised debauchery, to systemic corruption for both political and personal gain, and to the over-arching ambitions of two equally unsuitable and disreputable leaders.
This period of upheaval and mismanagement was eventually brought to an end, and a new era of relative stability and repair began under the reign of an admittedly imperfect, though far more noble and benevolent king, in Duncan the Brave. But, meanwhile, dark and sinister forces19 were conspiring in the background, determined to undo this hard won peace and stability, to sow the seeds of disunity and discontent, and ultimately to provoke untold mayhem and destruction.
Thus we are transported to a desolate place on a far-flung heath. A gathering storm is heard to rumble in the distance, and there is a shroud of mist which envelopes three lonely figures, hiding (momentarily at least) their most lurid and sinister purpose……………..
“Come here, sisters! Heed me now,
Chant with me, our solemn vow,
Round about the cauldron go,
In the poison’d entrails throw.”
Witches (in unison):
“Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”
“Within this pungent, fetid brine,
Destiny’s threads will thus entwine!
With smell that’s utmost foul and base,
And cruel and bitter to the taste,
From all those evil things to come
That cannot ever be undone!”
“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 owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”20
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair,21
Mischief’s here, with time to spare.”
“To sow the seed for treason’s flower
And spur a heart that lusts for power
Needs but a prick from envy’s thorn
To overwhelm his conscience scorn’d”22
“The fourth estate’s a liar’s lair,
For balanc’d debate? Au contraire!23
Revenge’s flame’s now burning bright,
That lights these caverns of the night”
Witches (in unison):
“But by the pricking of our thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes!”
Act I Scene 2:
Kowen Forest24, a camp just to the east of Dunsinane.
Narrator: Macbeth has just returned in triumph from a comprehensive victory in the battle of Godwin’s Grech25, over the rag tag remnants of the armies of a pretender to the throne, Kevin MacRudd. On the battle eve, Macbeth had stood proudly upon a fallen tree to deliver a stirring oration of over two hours duration to inspire his troops to action. As a result, so soundly did these soldiers sleep that they barely even stirred from their slumbers, to awaken the following morning thoroughly refreshed and energised, where they then proceeded to comprehensively rout the enemy. With the battle in the balance, a brave soldier in form of our hero Macbeth had led a surprise rapid retreat manoeuvre26 that cleverly lured the opposing forces into pursuing him thoughtlessly into a deep ravine, whereupon they became exposed on all sides to King Duncan’s archers, who then cut them down in a hailstorm of arrows until every last enemy soldier lay dead or dying. Among the dead was the erstwhile Thane of Cawdor, a once trusted ally of King Duncan, but who was fatally to be seduced by MacRudd’s grandiose plans of conquest that, perhaps predictably, came to nought but abject wreck and ruin.
Duncan: Who is this bloody man I see before me?
Sergeant: Sire, this is the hero of Godwin’s Grech, your noble captain Macbeth. He has slain a thousand men this very day through his bravery. In a twinkling, this gentleman hath turned tail and bolted at the proverbial rate of knots, running like a half-starved ferret into a rabbit hole did he, forcing the enemy to follow him with reckless abandon into an ambush. Our archers then shot their bolts straight and true, and with God’s grace, my liege, we were delivered to a victory most glorious!
Duncan: Well played, sir! Such quick thinking shows a man of considerable resourcefulness. In appreciation of thy deeds and undeniable courage on this great day, I confer unto thee all the titles, lands, goods, chattels and duties that the treacherous villain, the Thane of Cawdor, did himself possess prior to his demise. As Cawdor’s new thane, thou shalt have the additional responsibility for supervising the dispersal of all the important royal missives27, and also the great honour of making announcements to the public on the King’s behalf. What say thee, my good man?
Macbeth: (effusively) Thou, by that I mean our most noble and generous monarch King Duncan, a monarch innovative and agile and ready to meet the needs and challenges of the coming era, looking outward with benevolence and magnanimity to our friends and with courage and fearsomeness to our foes, hast bestowed upon me, thy humble servant, a servant willing and able to lay down life and limb in loyal service to his sovereign, a great honour.28
Duncan: (somewhat bemused) A grateful nation thanks you!
Act 1 Scene 3:
A heath near Kowen Forest
Enter three witches.
“Where hast thou been, sister? “
“Having such a brilliant time,
Torturing and killing swine.
In plague proportions hereabouts,
Cull’s overdue, I have no doubts”.
“And what of thou?”
“Been up to mischief most refin’d,
The lives of mortals thus malign’d,
With evil’s intent to misinform,
Truth no longer becomes the norm.”
“The good and true are soon torn asunder,
In blind panic, they’ll thrash and blunder,
The noblest of hearts can be distorted,
By spells and charms, innocents are thwarted.”
(A drum sounds in the distance)
“A drum! A drum!
Macbeth doth come”.
“At risk of falling into dull banality
Macbeth is ripe for a naval analogy“.
Witches (in unison):
“We weird sisters, hand in hand,
Let it be known across the land,
This empty vessel that sails these seas,
To reach our shores by aimless breeze,
His sails filled with puff and bluster,
Vanity’s vessel will lose its lustre,
When storm clouds gather on the horizon,
He’ll sink just like the S.S Poseidon”.29
(Enter Macbeth and Banquo)
Hold fast, Banquo!
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
What are these that stand before us, my friend?
They do most closely resemble humble peasant women, with their clothing so dishevelled and unkempt. One of them is certainly a corpulent old shrew, with those stumpy legs and flabby jowls, and that hair like blackened straw plaster’d to her head, she resembles none so much as a bloated scarecrow.30
The other two are so opposed in type, having such thin and wispy fingers and being so wizened in their features, but especially with their long and flowing beards that certainly make their apparent gender a most questionable proposition, to say the least!
What art thou……….. Will o’ the wisps? Restless ghosts? A coven of witches, perhaps?
Speak, if thou canst. What art thou?
All hail, Macbeth! Thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth! Thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth! Thou shalt be king thereafter!
That I became Thane of Glamis upon the death of Brendan, Niall’s son31, is well known, but how of Cawdor? This honour has only just now this very day been given to me many a mile from here by King Duncan, for my valiant efforts in the battlefield, by single-handedly killing fifteen hundred men!32 Wither comes such a prophesy that has such truth within it? And what of a king? This strange, yet oddly tantalising prophesy simply beggars belief!
Of course, I have always considered that a gentleman such as I, a man of such noble countenance and high-born lineage, would make an ideal candidate for such an auspicious honour, but dare one to hope that such a prediction could now possibly come to pass? (stares wanly into the distance, contemplating the absolute perfection that has been distilled into the shape and form of our hero, Macbeth)
And what strange intelligence canst thou share with me, oh loathsome hags?
To be King is naught but fantasy,
For one as unaligned as thee,33
Diplomacy seems such a clever ploy,
For those who have dwelled in doubtful joy,
But thy heirs will nonetheless be able,
To feast as Kings at the Royal table.
All hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
(Disappearing in puff of smoke)
What dost thou maketh of those shrivell’d crones?
They seem of unnatural possession,
Yet their predictions seem preposterous?
You, the father of kings, noble Banquo,
And yet I am to be King before them!
It is beyond earthly comprehension
That such a happenstance could thus occur.
I must admit a tincture of mistrust,
As to these apparitions’ true nature.
I suggest to thee, my most noble friend,
That these malcontents mean us a great ill!
It should remain our most egregious fault
If we were to pay any further mind,
To their devilish prognostications.
I resolve to think no further on it,
And suggest thou doest the same, withal.
As thou say, Banquo, my most loyal friend.
Fear not! So shall it be.
Act 2 Scene 1:
Glamis Castle, overlooking Blackburn Cove.34 Piper’s release their tuneful melody to the heavens, from their position high upon the point.
Lady Macbeth sits reading a letter, in stunned disbelief, as her husband relates his valiant exploits on the battle field (with more than a touch of poetic license, no doubt), and the strange and supernatural prophesy of the witches for Macbeth’s predestined ascension to the throne.
(Enter a porter)
What is thy tidings?
M’lady. Thy husband returneth from battle. He hath senteth a methenger ahead, to informeth thee to maketh preparations for the King, who cometh thish very eve.
This is indeed great news. Tell the servants to prepare to receive his majesty, and also tell the cooks to make ready a feast fit for a King!
(Aside) King Duncan has just sealed his fate, coming to reside, however briefly, under my battlements. Hiding behind a veil of polite manners and congenial hospitality, I shall meanwhile be spreading any vicious rumour I can to devalue him, working assiduously to undermine his integrity with those who trust and value him. I shall insinuate myself into his affairs of state to cast a shadow on his every achievement, all the while furtively throwing the cold light of day upon his every weakness, every hesitation, every misstep, and all of which will be performed with a most demure and womanly subtlety, of course. I shall then contact my many friends and confidants in the West Country35, and entreat them all to embark on a relentless campaign to further discredit him, piece by remorseless piece, until nothing remains but the merest shadow of his once robust fame and reputation.
I must confess that my mortal thoughts have absolutely no conscience nor compassion, no recourse to remorse, no pact with peace. My blood runs cold as ice, and is thickened in anticipation of enacting the direst cruelty upon King Duncan in the furtherance of my ambitions for my husband and myself.
My dearest husband! Welcome home O’ worthy Glamis, O’ great Cawdor, and O’ noblest King that will be! Come hither.
Thy letters have transported me beyond this ignorant present, and I feel now the future in the instant! Unsex me here and now, and fill me from the crown to the toe-top full………..36
Not now, Josephine. Calm yourself, lest lustful thoughts betray thee.
I regret the cockerel failed to arise this very morn, a portent we ignore at our very gravest peril!
Lo! But is that a dagger I see before me?
Nay! I am but an innocent flower that lacks a serpent under it.
I shall stick my courage to the sticking place all in good time,
But he that’s coming must first be provided for.37
You shall put this night’s great business into my dispatch,
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom!
And, my thane,
Once you’ve held up your end of our bargain,
You can leave all the rest to me!
Act 2 Scene 2:
Presently King Duncan , Malcolm, Donalbain, MacDuff and Banquo, along with their assorted attendants and other members of their retinue, arrived at Macbeth’s castle, whereupon they were received by their host and hostess with all the expected fawning pleasantries and false representations of hospitality that usually attend such occasions.
Behind the curtain of conviviality, however, lurks the spectre of a dark and deadly enterprise, one which would tear the edifice of stable representative government from its foundations.
Once the feasting had been done, the King retired to his bedchamber, where he slept in blissful ignorance that plans for his assassination were being brought to their treasonous and bloody fruition.
In the bowels of the castle, within those chambers below the unsuspecting guests, Macbeth and his wife are engaged in secret counsel, where the details of their deadly pact are being finalised.
If it were done when ’tis done,
Then ’twere well it were done quickly!
Alas, I am his host and he my guest,
And also his kinsman and his subject.
I owe him due fealty as expected
For one so lofty in position, and
Our shared bond to kith and kin.
Duncan hath indeed borne his faculties
With such great, unerring acuity,
And thus been so clear in his great office,
That his virtues will no doubt stand
In stark relief to mine own.
Should I now take his life this very night?
Now, to kill one’s sovereign is to partake
From a chalice poison’d by one’s own hand.
As surely as darkest night follows day,
Dire consequences are bound to follow.38
Art thou afeard to be the same
In thine own act and valour,
As thou art in desire?
Woulds’t thou live a coward
In thine own esteem, my husband,
Or grab that fateful dagger
That stands right now before thee
And beckons thee to thy destiny?
(Singing playfully to her husband in a taunting fashion)
“In the murderous arts, thou art somewhat callow,
And in personal charms, thou art far too shallow.
If thou hast no stomach for acts of thuggery,
Then you, my dearest lord, can go to buggery!
The time is now at hand for a man of action,
To prove worthy of my most lustful attraction.”
You leave me no choice my poison’d petal,
Duncan’s flesh must taste the kiss of metal.
I’ll plunge my dagger deep into his spine,
Whilst he sleeps under influence of wine,
I dare do all that may become a man,
Even though, in my heart, I’m but a sham.
Act 2 Scene 3:
Outside Duncan’s bedchamber.
The conspiracy is now in full swing. Presently, Lady Macbeth offers the guards at the door of the King’s bedchamber a glass of wine each, as the perfect hostess would, of course. But, unbeknownst to them, she has tainted the wine with a sleeping draught of her own concoction, and soon the guards are safely in the land of nod, while King Duncan lies asleep, awaiting his fate unguarded and utterly defenceless.
Silently, Macbeth enters Duncan’s chamber, with legs a-trembling and knees a-weakening. He can barely contain the urge to run at the mere sight of his slumbering sovereign. As Macbeth stands over him, a wave of nausea rises from the pit of his stomach and reaches upward like an invisible hand clutching at his throat.
Unable to look, Macbeth covers his eyes with his left hand, with dagger shaking wildly in the right, and then plunges the knife into the darkness, by sheer luck he stabbed straight into the back of the hapless King Duncan.
As a stifled groan of pain is heard to emanate from this most noble gentleman in the throes of death, Macbeth proceeds to continue to stab him again and again. Four and fifty blows39 were struck into his back in an orgy of bloodlust, until the King finally struggled no more and lay stone cold dead in the comfortable bed so kindly provided by his host. Macbeth stands in startled disbelief at his actions, and then looks down upon the bloodied hands of a most treasonous usurper.
Macbeth: (to himself)
Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast, now begone!
(Exit bedchamber, bloodied dagger still in hand)
I’ve done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
I thought I heard a cry, but cannot be sure.
Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
Thou dost unbend thy noble strength, to think
Such brainsickly of things. Go get some water
And wash this filthy witness from thy hands.
Why did you bring these daggers from that place?
They must lie there: go carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood to ensnare them .
These deeds must not be thought of again,
And so forget what thou hast just done,
My husband, lest it doth make thee mad.
(Voice raised, in an annoyed tone)
Conscience is a luxury thou canst scarce afford,
If thou hast any pretensions to Kingly robes!
My hands are of your colour; but I shame
To wear a heart so white.
Retire we to our chamber,
Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us,
And show us to be watchers.
A little water clears us of this deed:
How easy is it, then!
And be not lost, my noble husband,
So poorly in thy thoughts.40
Act 2 Scene 4:
Antechamber to Macbeth’s castle.
(Knocking repeatedly from within. Enter a Porter, just aroused from his perennial slumber)
Porter: (yawning, half asleep, muttering under his breath)
Here’s a knocking indeed!
And I wish they’d just knock it off!
It’s not as though such a splendid
Specimen as I really needs this exercise.41
If a man such as I were the porter
Of the gates of hell, he would likely die
Of old age before the turning of the key.
Knock, knock, knock! (to himself laughing)
Who’s there? One who in name is meek and mild?
But here is a most insubordinate woman,
Foul of mouth and lacking in the social graces,
Who now wears her independence as a cloak,
Which hides a dog that is a pup no more.42
Knock, knock, knock!
Who’s there? Bethany’s favourite son?
Here’s an equivocator, who rose anew
From his place of final and peaceful rest,
And whose loyalty to his kith and kin,
Led him to wander from the fold.43
Knock, knock, knock!
Who’s there? Defender of the despot’s boot?
Here’s a most resourceful gentleman,
Who engineered his own slow degradation,
The one pup left in the devil-hound’s litter,
Who remains in his place ’till his final dissolution.44
Knock, knock, knock;
Never any peace and quiet,
For such a lumbering brute as me,
Who would prefer to stand from prehistory,
Like a hulking monument to his own folly.45
So bankrupt am I46 of earthy pleasures
That I’m scarcely worth a plugg’d nickel47
So I’ll donate liberally48 to further my desires,
And steel49 myself against these incessant calls
This place is far too cold for hell!
So I’ll play the devil’s porter no further:
T’is a shame: I had hoped to let pass
The Bishops50 and the Abbots51,
The Soldiers and the Mayors52,
The Dukes, Earls and Barons
And the Shysters53 and Charlatans54,
Who would go the primrose path,
To dwell in the everlasting bonfire.
Anon, anon! I pray you,
Remember this most portly of porters
Is not the most mobile of conveyances!
(Opens the gate)
(Enter Macduff and Lennox)
Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,
That you do lie so late?
Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock:
And drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.
What does drink provoke, my corpulent friend?
A ruddy nose, an overactive bladder and the sleep of the dead.
I’d add a fourth in lechery, but as they say:
“What the lord giveth, the lord taketh away!”
Is thy master stirring?
Our knocking has awaked him. Here he comes.
Good morrow, noble sir!
Good morrow, both.
Is the king stirring, worthy thane?
He did command me to call timely on him:
I have almost slipp’d the hour.
I’ll bring you to him. There is the door.
It was indeed a very strange night, my lord.
We thought we heard all manner of strange noises
Coming out of the darkness near our encampment.
‘Twas a rough night indeed.
O horror, horror, horror!
Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Noble Duncan is slain,
And lies a bloodied corpse in his bed,
A victim to the most heinous treason.
His majesty? Murder’d?
Ring the alarm. Murder and treason!
Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,
And look on death itself! Up, up, and see
The great doom’s image! Malcolm! Banquo!
Ring the bell.
(Exit Macbeth and Lennox)
(Enter Lady Macbeth)
What is it that alarms you so,
That need rouse us so abruptly?
O gentle lady.
Our royal master ‘s murder’d!
What, in our house?
So cruel a fate for one so noble. Say it is not so.
(Re-enter Macbeth and Lennox)
Renown and grace is dead!
(Enter Malcolm and Donalbain)
Thy royal father is murder’d!
How? By whom?
Those who guarded his bedchamber were found,
Their hands and clothing cover’d in the King’s blood,
And daggers bloodied lay near the pillows where they slept.
O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
That I did kill them. And there lay Duncan,
His silver skin laced with his golden blood;
And his gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in nature
For ruin’s wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,
Steep’d in the colours of their trade, their daggers
Unmannerly breech’d with gore: who could refrain,
That had a heart to love, and in that heart
Courage to make ‘s love known?
Lady Macbeth: (fainting)
Look to the lady!
(Lady Macbeth is carried out)
(Exuent all but Donalbain and Malcolm)
Am I the only one, dear brother, who smells
A treacherous rat in this most bloody business?
We are indeed in the most mortal danger!
We must thus make ourselves scarce, mon frère,
Lest we suffer the same fate as our dear father.
What wilt thou do?
Let us not consort with them:
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office
Which these false men do easily.
I’ll to England.
To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer: Where we are,
There’s daggers in men’s smiles.
This murderous shaft that’s shot
Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
Is to avoid the aim. Therefore, to horse;
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking.
Act 3 Scene 1:
Outside Macbeth’s Castle
Most noble Thane of Fife,
Our troops grow wary and restless,
A’witness to unnatural portents
At every turn of their eye.
The death of Duncan has spook’d
E’en the most fearless of them.
Still, the most disgruntled core of them,
In both mind and heart conservative,55
Doth lash out in both sound and fury,56
Yet matter little in the grander scheme,57
As we turn to thoughts more temperate.
I, too, have seen hours dreadful,
And things most eerily strange,
As though the very heavens rebel
At those acts of men upon the bloody stage.
By the clock t’is the midst of the day,
Yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp!
Is it the day’s shame, or the night’s dominion,
That darkness does the face of earth entomb?
A falcon, towering in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d.
And Duncan’s horses, beauteous and swift,
Turn’d wild in nature, and broke from their stalls.
Indeed they did, upon the amazement of mine eyes!
How goes the world, sir, now?
Is’t known who did this more than bloody deed?
It seems it is those whom Macbeth hath slain.
They wore those bloodied instruments of death,
Upon their person in the fullest of glory!
Still, they may have been suborn’d to this foul act.
Malcolm and Donalbain are stolen away and fled,
Which puts upon them suspicion of the deed!
Macduff: (in disbelief)
Such thriftless ambition, against nature itself!
What manner of bestial union doth this proclaim?58
T’is most likely, now, that sovereignty falls to Macbeth,
Upon whose noble brow, the crown will rest easily, no doubt.
(Enter messenger, who passes a message to Macduff)
Macbeth is already named as king,
And gone to Scone to be invested.
I’ll now return to Fife, where I hope
To put this sorry business behind me.
Banquo: (to himself)
Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all.
As the weird women promised, and, I fear,
Thou played most foully for it! And yet,
Those same wizened hags proclaimed,
It shall not stand in thine own posterity.
These oracles proclaimed that I, Banquo,
Shall be the root and father of many kings!
But, hush! No more to think upon it,
Lest such ignoble thoughts lead me on,
And light the way to dusty death.
Act 3 Scene 2:
Milady’s bedchamber, Scone castle, prior to Macbeth’s investiture.
Lady Macbeth: (gazing into a looking glass)
Out, out damn spot! Out I say!
Stars hide your fires. Let not the light see
The ravages that time has wrought upon me.
These lines upon my visage are but tiny crevices,
That by the flicker of the candle are gaping
Like mortal wounds that more resemble crevasses.
How now, milady!
What ails thee?
My face is an utter catastrophe!
I cannot possibly be seen in public
In such a state of total disrepair.
Surely thou jest!
I am about to be crowned King of all Scotland,
And I need thee at my side, now more than ever.
The intricacies of thy facial features
Will just have to wait for another time and place.
Forgive me, my dear husband.
I am feeling very vulnerable and fragile.
I am a complex lady with simple needs!
(grabbing her husband forcefully)
Quickly, milord! Mount thy trusty steed.
Draw thy sword and charge my battlements!
If thou thrust thyself into the heat of battle now,
I’ll guarantee a glorious conquest is in the offing!
Macbeth: (rolling eyes)
Calm yourself, woman!
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
While night’s black agents to their preys do rouse.
Thou marvell’st at my words: but hold thee still;
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
So, prithee, thou must accompany me now.
Act 3 Scene 3:
Grounds of Scone castle59, upon the legendary Stone of Destiny60, the site of the coronations of Scotland’s kings since time immemorial. Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, 53 loyalist Thanes61 and their various attendants surrounding.
And so came the time for Macbeth’s ascension to the throne, in complete accord with the prophesies of the three witches. While standing in the centre of the admiring throng, Macbeth’s thoughts turned from the sea of smiling faces around him to the second element of the prophesy: that Banquo’s sons and grandsons would be future kings, and not his own.
Macbeth: (thinking to himself)
To be thus is nothing;
But to be safely thus.–Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be fear’d: ’tis much he dares;
And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear: and, under him,
My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said,
Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me,
And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
They hail’d him father to a line of kings:
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If ‘t be so,
For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d;
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list.
And champion me to the utterance!62
The coronation ceremony reached its conclusion, with the crown sitting uneasily upon Macbeth’s head. Now came the time for his acceptance speech, and Macbeth cast aside his misgivings about his rivalry with Banquo to outline his vision for the nation. And what a circuitous and addled concoction that turned out to be!
My loyal subjects,
Thank you all for having confidence in me, and for the honour and privilege thou hast bestowed upon me by installing me in this most august role as thy sovereign and most supreme ruler. I would like to begin by acknowledging the Gael and Pict peoples, upon whose lands we meet, and honour their elders past and present.63
I stand here, on the famous Stone of Destiny, ready to assume the mantle of royalty and mindful of the great kings of posterity, from the legendary Kenneth MacAlpine the Conqueror who united the Picts and Gaels at the point of his mighty sword, to his great and noble son Donald MacAlpine, to the courageous Cullen the White, to the indefatigable Indulf the Aggressor, to the ever-ruthless Malcolm the Destroyer, to the noble Kenneth the Brown, and finally to the stable and bountiful leadership of Constantine 1st and 2nd…………………..(pauses, momentarily)64
It is a great honour to join this pantheon of legends, having myself slain two thousand men single-handedly65 with my bare hands at the Battle of Godwin’s Grech, in a feat of bravery and strength that, quite frankly, completely defies all earthly comprehension!
Our great Scottish nation is at a crossroads, and what is needed now is an agile and innovative66 leadership, one that is prepared to adapt and change for the demands of the 11th century, an era that will no doubt be fraught with many challenges that require the quick thinking, the flexibility and even the ambivalence that only I can muster.
This is an exciting time, but also a sobering and a humbling time, a time to embrace our cultural diversity, and a time to encourage the innovation, the creativity and the agility of our people67. I intend to be a collaborative ruler, one who listens and engages, and one who instills confidence by laying out the issues before us and presents the path forward for all of us to stride confidently forth into a bright and compelling future.
I propose therefore, as my first act as your King, to restore the plan that was, ironically, once laid down by that pretender to the throne, Kevin MacRudd, and over which I have toiled endlessly in my time as Thane of Cawdor. A vast network of carrier pigeons68 is to be rolled out over the next decade, to bring cutting edge, modern communications to the peasantry in the outlying heaths and highlands, thereby connecting them to all of their compatriots in the villages and townships of our kingdom at lightning speeds. This will catapult our little Scottish nation rapidly into the 11th century: a bold, new era in the modern technological age.
I also intend to set aside a sum of 100,000 bronze sceattas69 in the Clan Energy Fund70 to promote milling of grains throughout the land. These funds will be used to fell vast tracts of useless forest to build gigantic quern-stones, some 30 ell71 in girth, with massive windmills72 upon them for their source of power, to provide every clan with a millstone for their bread making. I call it “clan energy”, because each mill will often be entirely powered, when the wind is not blowing or is blowing too powerfully to be safely utilised of course, by the two first born able-bodied sons of each clan, turning the stone in custom made harness and halter73, making it not only 100% sustainable and renewable energy, but completely friendly to the environment!74
Furthermore, I intend to levy a tax on every transaction between the merchants and their customers at the village marketplaces whenever goods are exchanged, at a rate of 15 bronze sceattas per every silver sceat75. Additionally, this tax will be collected by each Thane within the grounds of his castle, and to be used for the provision of all the health and community services that their serfs expect within their feudal circle, without resort to the King’s treasury76.
Also, I intend to ask our friends in far off Gaul, to build us a fleet of submersible vehicles, made of hessian soaked in creosote77, to ward off the threat of those monstrous sea creatures that dwell within the dark waters of our lochs, lurking below the surface just waiting to attack any innocent peasants that might happen to walk along the shoreline. Of course, this will require us to levy a water tax upon every peasant in the kingdom, in order to pay the price of 500,000 Parisian livre to produce these submersibles over the next 40 years that would be required to build them…………..78
On and on Macbeth’s long-winded and bombastic speech continued, meandering along over every hill and down every dale, often winding circuitously around itself in an intellectual Möbius strip back whence it began, or alternatively wandering aimlessly up the garden path of the narrative until it eventually lost its trail of breadcrumbs, which did indeed occur on many an occasion. But, undaunted our intrepid Macbeth continued, launching a veritable armada of canards, a flotilla of fallacies, a cavalcade of platitudes and an argosy of ostentation. No sophistry was too inane, no mendacity too spurious, and no conceit too presumptuous.
As the hours ticked by, the “sea of smiling faces” gave way to looks of agonising despair, with eyes becoming progressively more staring and lifeless, eyelids drooping repeatedly, postures sagging progressively, and limbs weakening until a paralysing numbness supervened for many. Those who could discreetly leave unnoticed stole away, and as darkness descended after sundown it soon became a mass exodus, until those that remained were only those poor unfortunates too conspicuously close to the “action” to be able to make good their escape.
Eventually, it would seem that even Macbeth began to tire of the sound of his own relentlessly pontificating and increasingly ponderous voice. He finally concluded his oratory with his final grand plan for the kingdom, that being the transition of Scotland from a traditional kingdom with a monarch as the head of state, to that of a Republic where the royal succession would be replaced by a parliamentary model with what he termed a “President” as head of state79. In this system, the “elected” leader would govern for life while his various ministers of government were subject to elections by popular vote every 4 years. Macbeth seemed completely undaunted by the fact that such a proposition had been roundly defeated only a couple of decades prior, when just such a model was put to the people in a referendum. Nor was he in the least bit fazed by the apparent irony of his coronation this very day as the incumbent King of Scotland.80
Those that gathered about him, at least those hardy souls more than semi-conscious, were left to wonder whether Macbeth’s heart was truly into fulfilling the obligations of his role as King, or whether he was merely determined to be renowned as the last lineal monarch in Scottish history. None could have guessed that the real reason for this proposed sham democracy was to eliminate the possibility of Malcolm or Donalbain ever challenging for rule should they perchance clear their name of suspicion in their father’s regicide, and further to deny Banquo’s heirs any chance of their prophesied succession.
Once this seemingly interminable, relentlessly monotonous monologue reached its eventual (if not inevitable) conclusion, the remaining Thanes and their assorted attendants wended their way to bed, exhausted after the death of a thousand cuts they had just endured. All of their various heads had barely touched their respective pillows when a wave of oblivion rapidly enveloped them, propelling them headlong into the soundest sleep they had ever experienced in their entire lives!
(Exuent all, and to all a good night!)
Act 3 scene 4:
Antechamber Scone castle
Early in the morning following the coronation ceremony, a meeting is taking place in secret between the newly crowned King and some ruffians of his acquaintance who are eager to perform any and every manner of nefarious deed for the right price.
First murderer: (Pyne81)
What would be your pleasure, highness?
T’is clear to all of thee who have gather’d here,
That the time is nigh to settle old scores.
Our mutual interests seem to be best served
If noble Banquo is shortly to meet his maker.
Our mutual adversary hath outlived his usefulness,
And must pay the price for his egregious sins.
Hath he not thwarted all of your ambitions,
Depriving thee all of the rewards owed to thee?
Are thou not beggar’d by his ascendancy,
And desirous of revenge to cut him down?
Second murderer: (Sinodinos82)
I am one, my liege, who knows of the pain
Of false accusations of malfeasance,
Whilst I stood at Banquo’s right hand.83
So incensed was I at his scant protection,
Against the vile blows and buffets of misfortune,
That I am reckless what I do to spite the world.
First murderer: (Pyne)
And I am also a man sorely rebuffed,
Weary with disasters, tugg’d with fortune,
That I would set my lie on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid of it, once and for all.
No mincing poodle84 am I, more a terrier,
Gnashing tooth and claw to rip and tear,
At Banquo’s flesh, so mottled and pale,
Till life’s last breath is subdued to silence.
Third Murderer: ( Mal Brough85)
I am one whom Banquo trusts implicitly,
And am sure I can get us close enough,
Without arousing his suspicions unduly,
To perform with gusto this bloody mission,
Be just and fear not86, my noble liege,
We’ll sink the slipper87 in good and proper.
Fourth murderer: (MacFarlane88 – in a distinctive gravelly voice)
We’ll see it done, sire!
Banquo and his issue are as good as gone.
Thou canst count upon our discretion and valour!
Act 3 Scene 5:
The dining hall, Scone palace.
(Enter Lady Macbeth with a servant)
Say to the king, I would attend his leisure
For a few words.
I will, madam.
Nought’s had, all’s spent,
Where our desire is got,
Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night;
Gentle my lord, sleek o’er your rugged looks,
Lest the expedition of my most violent love,
Outrun the pauser, reason.
Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:
So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you:
Unsafe the while, that we must present
Our faces as camouflage to our hearts,
Disguising what they are.
Let’s away and greet our invited guests,
Who are gathering now in the dining hall,
Presenting a front united in its semblance,
To quell any doubters lingering in our midst.
(Lady Macbeth and her husband enter Banquet Hall, to be greeted by Lennox and several other of Macbeth’s most loyal thanes)
A hearty welcome to one and all!
Take thy seats, and our hostess will attend presently.
Thanks to your majesty.
Friends, from my heart, welcome.
Canst thou see that person there,
On the bench at the back89 of the hall!
There he sits, that beard, those features,
It has the shape and form of King Duncan!
How can that be? Duncan is in his grave;
After life’s fitful fever, he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further.90
Ghost of Duncan:
How canst thou forget me and my deeds so quickly?
No longer were those tillers of the soil encumbered91,
Nor their faces blackened by both wind and sun!92
Hast thou not ridden to such conspicuous glory,
By grasping firmly upon my kingly coat-tails?
Art thou also content to wear a usurper’s crown,
Trading freely upon the reflected glory of my legacy?93
Lady Macbeth: (to Macbeth)
My worthy lord, why art thou so pale?
What see you as you gaze upon that empty chair?
Thy noble friends do lack thee, my husband.
Avaunt! and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with!
Lady Macbeth: (nudging her husband)
Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well: if much you note him,
You shall offend him and extend his passion:
Feed, and regard him not.
Ghost of Duncan:
In two short years,
A delicate seed was planted to prosperity,
And gently nurtured to its fullest flowering.
Now cut short by such treasonous betrayal,
From a craven coward’s restless dagger,
That wantonly ripped at my defenceless flesh,
Whilst I, in innocent sleep, confidently reclined,
In the reputed safety of my brother’s bosom.94
Macbeth: (regaining his senses)
I do forget myself.
Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends,
I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
To those that know me. Come, love and health to all;
Then I’ll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.
I drink to the general joy o’ the whole table,
And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;
Would he were here! To all, and him, we thirst,
And all to all.
All hail Macbeth!
We hope that thou shalt recover thyself,
And overcome whatever ails thee, my liege.
Act 4 Scene 1:
In a park near the palace, Banquo and Fleance have just begun walking back after having been locked in intense discussions about the somewhat parlous state of the King’s treasury95, which in spite of the grandiose plans announced by the newly crowned sovereign, were sadly more inclined to abject penury than aspiring to conspicuous affluence.
Shortly thereafter, the father and his son were set upon by a group of cut-throats and scoundrels, who attacked them with knives and clubs. In the melee, Banquo was struck a fatal blow and fell to the ground motionless, his life’s flame tragically extinguished. His son, Fleance, managed to fight off his attackers to flee into the woods nearby where he disappeared into the darkness.
These hoodlums then returned to the palace, to report the news of their success and failure to Macbeth.
(Antechamber at Scone Palace)
(Enter first murderer)
There’s blood on thy face.
‘Tis Banquo’s then.
‘Tis better thee without than he within.
Is he dispatch’d?
My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him.
Thou art the best o’ the cut-throats: yet he’s good
That did the like for Fleance.
Most royal sir,
Fleance is ‘scaped.
Praise to thee for thus dispatching Banquo.
But Fleance’s flight is a grave misfortune.
There the grown serpent lies; the worm that’s fled
Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
No teeth for the present, but the future?
Get thee gone!
Macbeth: (to self)
Blood hath been shed here now, i’ the olden time,
Ere human statute purged the gentle weal;
Ay, and since too, murders have been perform’d
Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now this is more strange
Than such a murder is.
Act 4 scene 2:
A distant and desolate heath.
Thunder rumbles in the distance, and then a vortex of wind swirls upward, before Hecate’s gyrating figure96 appears amidst the maelstrom and hovers briefly before setting gently down amongst the three witches standing below. Her loyal followers and partners in crime and mischief-making welcome her.
How now, Hecate!
But, Lo! By thy visage thou seemeth unduly angered.
Have I not reason? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call’d to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
We beg forgiveness, mistress.
How might we make amends
For our grievous trespasses?
All this that follows must be done,
To bring to heel a wayward son,
Spiteful and full of wrath and scorn,
Hope for recompense seems forlorn,
Loves only for most selfish ends,
His pride can never make amends.
So, get you gone, sisters!
And at the pit of Acheron
We shall meet once again this very morn.
There Macbeth, incidentally,
Will come to know his destiny:
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and every thing beside.
I am for the air; this night I’ll spend
Unto a dismal and a fatal end.97
Act 4 Scene 3:
Fife Castle, overlooking the Firth of Forth.
(Enter Lady Macduff and her chambermaid following shortly thereafter)
I regret, milady, I must inform thee,
That I have heard some of the common folk,
Spreading vicious rumours about thee ’round town.98
Lady Macduff: (aghast)
What rumours, girl?
I could scarcely believe my ears, madam.
They say there was a scandal involving
The late King and thee, milady. They claim
Thou art engaged in liaisons with him,
And behind the master’s back, milady.
So, that is why thy husband is gone
Now to England for the shame of it!
Lady Macduff: (recoiling in horror)
Such vicious slander as was ever heard!
Who could be so malicious to invent,
Such a despicable and bare-faced lie?
It’s the gravest insult to my honour,
But also to our noble King Duncan,
Who lies in his grave unable to defend,
This unjust stain on his reputation.
I’m so sorry, milady,
But I thought thou shouldst know
What has been said of thee.
Worry not, my dear girl. But rest assured,
There’s not the slightest modicum of truth
In suggestions of impropriety
Between noble King Duncan and myself.
Such gutter gossip is utterly false.
T’is true that, in life, King Duncan didst show
Many a kindness, and that I wouldst often
Give him counsel on issues politic,
But, verily, unseemly relations,
Canst not e’en remotely be imagin’d.
I adore my sweet husband most dearly,
The light from love’s candle remains undimm’d
Through our many happy years together
As devoted husband and faithful wife.
I would certainly never submit him,
To suffer in the shame of a cuckold.
Now, go and attend to your chores,
With an untroubled mind.
Lady Macduff: (to herself)
These vicious rumours bear the fingerprints
Of some vengeful and venomous harpy,99
Roused only by her unbridled hatred
And naked ambition to her own ends.100
I fear I’ve a powerful enemy
Who set her sights on my ruination.
Hoping to use all her womanly wiles,
And all manner of stealth and baleful guile,
Therein sullying my reputation.
(Enter a messenger)
I bear a letter from his lordship, madam.
Lady Macduff: (reading the letter from her husband)
Thank you, that will be all.
Macduff’s letter to his wife warned her that she was in a most mortal danger. Having travelled to England to the court of King Edward the Confessor, her husband had met with Duncan’s son, Malcolm. Both were now convinced that Macbeth had killed Duncan to attain the throne, and were marshalling forces against him with the support of the English army. His final words were to entreat his wife to gather his little ones together and flee to a safe haven across the Firth, and forthwith.
Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now,
I am in this earthly world; where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly!
What are these faces?
Where is your husband?
Lady Macduff: ( defiantly)
I hope, in no place so unsanctified
Where such as thou mayst find him.
He’s a traitor to the crown.
Thou liest, thou shaggy hair’d and flea-bitten mutt!
Thy husband set thee upon this road to ruin.101
Take now what’s coming to thee!
Villain! Thou hast kill’d me!
(Calling out to her children in the room next door)
Run away, my precious ones, I prithee!
(Exeunt Murderers, with the screams of children heard shortly thereafter)
Act 4 Scene 4:
A cavern in the glen.
Three witches are seen in the glimmering firelight, gathered round a cauldron in the centre.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.102
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
(Enter Hecate to the other three Witches)
O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share in the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.
(Hecate gyrates skyward and disappears into the aether, never to be seen again).
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe’er you come to know it, answer me:
What doth the fates decree, in time’s fullness,
And destiny’s whim, for one such as me?
And we’ll answer.
Say, if thou’dst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters?
Call your masters; let me see them.
Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show!
(Thunder. First Apparition: A disembodied head with very prominent, even oversized ears103)
Tell me, thou unknown power.
He knows thy thought:
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
Stop those leaky boats that cross the Firth,
To block those clamouring for a berth,104
Then axe the tax that would break our backs,
From those whose vision tends parallax,105
Repay the debt that’s weighing us down,
From purse strings loosen’d by a clown.106
To stop this waste of most recent times,
Requires wholesale shifts in paradigms.107
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.
Whate’er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks;
Thou hast harp’d my fear aright: but one
He will not be commanded: here’s another,
More potent than the first.
(Thunder. Second Apparition: A Flame-haired and bloodied crone108)
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
Labour’s tools are blunt and rotted,109
That dig the graves of those besotted,
With a union that sets class on class,110
In trying to break a looming impasse,
By starting a war of gender on gender,111
That for this phoney is the ultimate agenda.
Misogyny! Misogyny! She cries in warning,
Yet gladly pays tithes to global warming.112
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn,
The power of man, for none of woman born,
Shall harm Macbeth!
Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?
But yet I’ve made assurance double sure,
And taken a bond of fate: Macduff shalt not live;
That I may fall a’foul of pale-hearted fear ever more.
(Thunder. Third Apparition: A grey-haired, bespectacled dwarf wearing a crown upon its head, slightly askew113)
What is this
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby-brow the round
And top of sovereignty?
Listen, but speak not to’t.
T’is the most dangerous of all!
I regret I’m but the rankest amateur,
In the ways of iambic pentameter.
Explicit sorrow to history’s kin
Determin’d by the colour of their skin
Is, all in all, my most crown’d glory,114
But is far remov’d from my whole story.
Like a pig in a muddy pen wallows
So, a litany of failure now follows:
With molesters of children uncover’d,
Till a lawful inquiry was smother’d,
By those who stood in some authority,
Yet smote their eyes as their sole priority.
That such neglect was amply rewarded,
Shows scant regard for a tale so sordid.115
In haste some untrained souls were despatch’d,
To fulfil a best laid plan that was hatched,
Without recourse to safety or prudence,
Leaving a quartet of corpses, young students,
Whose faith was misplaced in regulations,
To prevent such reckless operations.116
With the wave of my hand, floodgates open,
A human tide roll’d to shore unbroken,
Till calamity struck and hundreds drown’d,
As a consequence of borders unbound.
Far be it for me to accept any fault,
To hell with conscience, best kept in the vault.117
A crisis event of finance sub-prime,
Made for an orgy of spending sublime,
With debt ballooning exponentially,
Each and every budget sequentially,
While this debacle seems unsustainable,118
It’s made global leadership attainable.119
Mark my words:
Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.
That will never be.
Rebellion’s head, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: Tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: Shall Banquo’s issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?
Seek to know no more!
What, is this so?
Ay, sir, all this is so: but why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights:
I’ll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antic round:
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay.
Where are they? Gone?
Now let this most pernicious hour
Stand accurs’d in the calendar.
Act 4 Scene 5:
Glamis Castle, an ante-room.
Narrator: Since the untimely demise of King Duncan at the hands of her husband, Lady Macbeth whiled away the hours exercising obsessively120 and gazing lovingly at her reflection in the looking glass in her bedchamber, dreaming of the moment when her husband would return, sweeping her into his muscular embrace and ravishing her in the tradition of the lurid “bodice-ripper” novels she was wont to read to pass the time when she was alone. As the reality of her husband’s continued absences and ongoing indifference to matters sexual hit home, her unrequited desires became unbearable, until she was reduced to wandering aimlessly through the halls of the castle, scantily clad and carrying a candelabrum in a delirium of thwarted erotic anticipation.
Presently, a doctor was called, a visiting Irish physician from Limerick, Dr O’Loughnane,121 who was regarded as an absolute expert in the various troubles that beset the mind, and who was a fine purveyor of herbs, unguents and folk remedies to quell the various disturbances of the humours. In more severe cases such as the queen’s, he would induce vomiting with a series of emetics and following that apply specific purges to her using a concoction developed by Ptolemy called Hiera Logadii, which combines aloes, black hellebore, and colocynth to hopefully cleanse her of her melancholy. When this failed, blood letting was then performed, first with leeches and then by serial phlebotomy, followed by fire cupping of her entire body, all of which unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, failed to do the trick and restore her to herself.
Sadly, some cases such as the queen’s remained resistant to such cutting edge treatments, and our skilled physician as a last resort recommended to pierce the skull with a metal trephine, so that through this opening made by the good doctor, the evil spirits inhabiting her mind could thus be easily released. In spite of such medical heroics, Lady Macbeth lapsed further into madness, wherein she became totally disconnected from reality. Her husband eventually returned to find his wife in just such a state, and consulted the physician for the latest on her deteriorating condition.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?
It seems that the queen is now troubled,
By the sins of her past that up-bubbled,
To cure all of her sadness,
And remove all the madness,
Would require several miracles redoubled.122
What dost thou mean, doctor?
In matters of mind I’m no oracle,
To make all prognoses categorical,
But your wife is quite mad,
Despite the treatment she’s had,
Which makes her quite stuffed, metaphorical!
That bad is it? Thou doth not say.
Oh well, er, I s’pose I’ll be off then.
Kingdom to run and all that.
I’ll to Dunsinane, across the cove.
Nurse! Come hither.
How goes milady?
The queen lies in her bedchamber, sir.
Delirious she is, rambling and raving,
Thrashing about in fits of St Vitas’ dance!123
Let’s attend her. Come with me.
Soon the good Dr O’Loughnane and the nurse were at the woman’s bedside. They watched passively as her pallor, her fevered brow and her body wracked in pain told of her being in extremis and near to death.
Lady Macbeth: (raving)
Out, damned spot! out, I say!–One: two: why,
Then, ’tis time to do’t. What need we fear them
That knows it, when none can call our power
To account?–Yet who would’ve thought the old man
To have had so much blood in him.
The thane of Fife had a wife: Where is she now?
What, will these blood-stain’d hands ne’er be clean?
Here the putrid smell of blood still lingers,
All the fine perfumes of Arabia
Will not sweeten this little hand.
The queen doth not need a physician,
But requires a priest’s divine mission,
To give balm to her malady,
Or a singer whose balladry,
Will give voice to her need for contrition.
(Orders to the nurse, as he is leaving)
Remove from her the means of all annoyance,
And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night.
Nurse: (holding her hand)
It is a’right, milady, I’m here with you.
Lady Macbeth: (in a feeble voice)
Am I pretty?
Nurse: (crosses herself)
May the good Lord bestow his Grace and mercy,
Upon thy immortal soul!
(Closing her eyelids, and covering her with a sheet)
Act 5 Scene 1:
Outside Dunsinane castle. Macduff and the English army gather in support of Malcolm as they marshal their respective forces to overthrow the usurper to the crown.
Make all our trumpets speak; give them all breath,
Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death.
I bring you sorry news, milord.
Let not your ears despise my tongue for saying it!
Speak, man! What say you?
Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes
What vile and most despicable felons
Could have perform’d such a deed?
My wife? My children, too?
Wife, children, servants, all milord.
Macduff: (in disbelief)
All my pretty chickens and their dam,
At one fell swoop?
(Draws his sword, anger fit to bursting written upon his manly face)
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself,
Within my sword’s length set him; if he ‘scape,
Heaven forgive me! Macbeth is ripe for shaking,
And the powers above put on their instruments.
Receive what cheer you may, the night is long
That never finds the day.
What wood is that before us?
The wood of Birnam.
(Calling out to his troops)
Let every soldier hew him down a bough,
And bear’t before him. Thereby shall we shadow
The numbers of our army from discovery.
Soldiers: (in unison)
It shall be done.
An overconfident tyrant, is Macbeth.
And none serve with him but constrained things
Whose hearts are absent too.
The time approaches
That will with due decision make us know,
What we shall say we have and what we owe.
Let us prepare for war!
Act 5 scene 2:
Upon the battlements of Dunsinane castle, Macbeth is seen gazing out upon the great Birnam wood, a sea of green124 as far as the eye can see that stands as a metaphor for our “environmentally conscious”, if duplicitous and blood-thirsty, monarch.
This heavenly scene that stands before me,
Birnam wood in all its verdant glory,
Stands steadfast and unfaz’d by man’s affairs,
Nor does it care for human pride or airs,
As nature’s resilience does not yield,
To conspirators’ devious schemes conceal’d.125
I regret, sire, I bear bad tidings.
No chateaubriand on the menu again tonight?
No, my liege, much more important than that.
What could be more important than that?
It is the queen,
She has shuffled off the mortal coil, sire!
Macbeth: (staring off into the distance)
What do you mean, sergeant?
She has pass’d from this earthly realm,
Been call’d to God, kicked the bucket, bitten the dust,
Popp’d her clogs, taken a long walk off a short pier,
Dearly departed, left the building, bought the farm,
Went the way of all flesh. In short, she’s dead, my liege.
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Sergeant: (casting a casual eye askance)
Look sire! The forest, my liege, it moves!
(Turns to look toward yonder wood, and stands agape at what he sees)
Lo and behold, the once indifferent and steadfast forest was indeed moving unto Dunsinane, as a green tide126 rolled in promising to envelope the castle and all who reside within. The usurper stood transfixed, his eyes widening in horror, mindful of one of the conditions for his demise suddenly being now in play.
Macbeth: (shaking in his boots)
Sergeant! So much for those that don’t matter!
They are marching on the gates as we speak!
But holdfast, for none of woman born can defeat me.
Let’s at them.
Act 5 scene 3:
In the field, outside Dunsinane castle.
Opposing forces are locked in battle, a relentless assault of sword and axe on blood and bone. As Malcolm and his English allies set to their battle against their foes, Macduff, with sword in hand has eyes for only one man, the tyrant whose minions slaughtered his wife and children. Inevitably, he came face to face with his mortal enemy, with a reckoning of the highest order firmly in his sights.
They engage in a monumental clash of giant broadswords, with Macbeth exuding the grandiose overconfidence gained from the supernatural prophesies of the old crones. Macbeth thus considered himself truly invincible, even in the face of the adept and clinical swordsmanship of his rival. But, alas, this confidence was soon to be shown to be misplaced, and poetic justice was soon to be delivered, with razor sharp precision.
Thou losest labour:
As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed:
Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests;
I bear a charmed life, which must not yield,
To one of woman born.
Despair thy charm;
And let the angel whom thou still hast served
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb
I will not yield! Lay on, Macduff,
And damned be him that cries, “Hold, enough!”
Act 5 Scene 4:
Another part of the castle, as the last of Macbeth’s forces are slain, and lie dead or dying upon the bloody field.
(Enter Macduff, with Macbeth’s head firmly implanted upon a spike)
Hail, King ! for so thou art: Behold, where stands
The usurper’s cursed head: the time is free:
I see thee compass’d with thy kingdom’s pearl,
That speak my salutation in their minds;
Whose voices I desire aloud with mine:
Hail, King of Scotland!
Hail, King of Scotland!
We shall not spend a large expense of time
Before we reckon with your several loves,
And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
Henceforth be Earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honour named. What’s more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exiled friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
Who, as ’tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
We will perform in measure, time and place:
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone.
1 Malcolm Turnbull’s lavish harbourside home is found in Sydney’s swank upper crust suburb of Point Piper, a name that does indeed suggest the quintessentially Scottish imagery of a piper playing his bagpipes on the point of a headland, which I then transposed to the environs of Macbeth’s seat of Glamis castle in the play.
2 The three witches represent (and are therefore played by) the three journalists principal in undermining the former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. These three in particular, among of Greek chorus of like-minded cohorts, constantly denigrated Mr. Abbott’s achievements and lambasted his perceived failures, unfairly in my view, in favour of boosting the challenge of Malcolm Turnbull, a superficially charming and well spoken man but who is sorely lacking otherwise in leadership skills or judgement.
3 Thane of Cawdor, for the purposes of our play, equates to the Communications minister portfolio occupied by Malcolm Turnbull under Tony Abbott’s leadership. Although no doubt conscious of the old axiom: “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”, Tony Abbott clearly erred in giving this media platform to his rival. A ministerial portfolio, I might add, that Malcolm Turnbull failed dismally and conspicuously to manage efficiently and appropriately, as has more recently come to light in the lead up to the upcoming July 2, 2016 general election.
4 Julie Bishop, as Foreign Minister and Deputy PM in the Abbott government, enjoyed a relatively high profile for a conservative female politician with the media, and in these roles, superficially at least, she performed quite admirably. As time went on, however, it became increasingly obvious that Ms. Bishop revelled in the spotlight, and seemed to become more and more fashion conscious and fitness obsessed in what amounted, at least in my opinion, to a desperate attempt to become a fashion icon and media darling.
5 Modern journalism, as it has evolved, has become an increasingly subjective, partisan and often blatantly propagandising profession, characterised by the selective presentation of facts and “factoids” (often seamlessly intertwined with undifferentiated editorial opinion), by the regular misuse and manipulation of language to distort meaning, and more troublingly by the emergence of an all-pervasive tendency to left-wing activism, complete with its politically correct moral posturing and proselytising. The spells and charms are analogous to the stock in trade propaganda tools the fourth estate regularly employs in this capacity, whilst prophesies are often seen to be self-fulfilling, such is the power of the mainstream media in the modern political scene.
6 The hatchet job performed on Tony Abbott after his election to Prime Minister was, in my opinion, the most concerted campaign of relentless distortion, systematic undermining and often outright abuse ever directed at an elected politician in Australia’s history. Even actions of obvious virtue, including charity and fundraising events, working tirelessly in Aboriginal communities for their betterment, and volunteer firefighting and surf lifesaving were routinely mocked, lampooned and derided, mostly by people who would never actively lift a finger to help anyone but themselves.
7 Scott Morrison, as Immigration Minister in the Abbott government, was responsible for the implementation of “Operation Sovereign Borders”, a policy which restored the integrity of Australia’s border control, by removing the incentive for people smugglers to place asylum seekers at severe risk of death or injury on the high seas for profit. He was generally lauded for his application of this policy, and for the apparent mastery of his portfolio. As time has gone by, however, the prevailing opinion seems to be that this apparent efficiency had very much to do with the steadfast resolve of his leader, Tony Abbott, as he has conspicuously floundered since without his stewardship.
8 Scott Morrison was seen in many quarters as a natural successor to Tony Abbott, particularly during Morrison’s highly successful tenure as Immigration Minister, and again as Social Services Minister.
9 Scott Morrison’s elevation to the role of Treasurer subsequent to Malcolm Turnbull’s overthrow of Tony Abbott, may ironically have put paid to any chance he may have had to become Prime Minister, in spite of his alleged neutrality in the leadership spill. Having voted for Abbott, he nevertheless keep silent about his foreknowledge of the challenge and upcoming spill, and failed to help gather any support for his incumbent leader among his colleagues, keeping his options open for a place in Turnbull’s ministry if the cards fell that way. Such playing of both ends against the middle has completely undermined any likely trust he ever could expect to receive from his colleagues in such a leadership bid in the future.
10 In spite of a hostile and uncooperative senate, a media contingent hell bent on facilitating his demise, ruthlessly ambitious colleagues undermining him at every turn from the very beginning of his tenure, and an awkward public persona and communication style (due in part to a mild speech impediment), in 2 years as PM Abbott managed to curtail significantly the proliferation of useless bureaucratic entities that served little or no purpose other than to drain the public purse (such as the Climate Change Authority), brokered 3 free trade agreements with our most significant trading partners in Asia, repealed the economy destroying Carbon tax and the useless investment killing mining tax, and also stemmed completely the relentless flow of asylum seekers arriving by boat to a mere trickle, thereby avoiding countless further deaths at sea to add to the 1200 (at least) unfortunate souls who died as a direct consequence of the Rudd Labor government’s foolhardy repeal of offshore processing and temporary protection visas, measures that had successfully stopped people smuggling operations under the Howard government that preceded it.
11 Bronwyn Bishop, former Speaker of the House, almost certainly wins the award as the single most disloyal (amongst a hot field of candidates) of former PM Abbott’s senior government figures. As such, she is overqualified for the role of Hecate, the wellspring and inspirational leader of witches everywhere. Having caused Abbott such great embarrassment in trying to protect her from the fallout of the Choppergate scandal she had embroiled herself in through her needlessly elitist attitude and errant stupidity, and then in damaging Abbott’s reputation out of his misplaced loyalty to her as a once valued colleague, Ms. Bishop then proceeded to betray Abbott in a twinkling and vote for his rival Turnbull in the leadership spill that would eventually see Abbott removed as PM. That’s gratitude for you!
12 In the overthrow of Abbott’s position as PM, Bronwyn Bishop aside, there were several others who covered themselves in glory as vile betrayers of the worst kind, with many turning on a leader who had supported them in adversity (Sinodinos), promoted them to positions of trust and influence (Pyne, Brandis), and otherwise enabled them (Brough) in their rise to prominence. Such unprincipled behaviour made them shoe-ins for their roles, not withstanding that some of them have since fallen from grace (Brough, MacFarlane, Sinodinos), in a tincture of what many would consider poetic justice.
13 “Hurly-burly” is derived from 14th century England, and means a disturbance that is loud and chaotic, but was popularised by Shakespeare in the play Macbeth, when one of the witches states, “When the hurly-burly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won”.
14 “6 years of chaos” refers to the dysfunctional Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era from 2008- 2013, where multiple policy failures and economic profligacy was the order of the day. The overthrow of Rudd by Gillard was a calculated move to consolidate Union power, and then the subsequent constant undermining of Gillard by Rudd in revenge leading to her demise just prior to the 2013 election, set Australian politics on a path to self- imposed destruction that is likely to take at least another decade to finally set right, if indeed it ever does. I remain sceptical.
15 Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
16 Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
17,18 The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years set the precedent of removal of first term sitting Prime Ministers based on at least dubious, and often rigged opinion polls and through self-centred personal ambition rather than any consideration for the needs and desires of the humble voter. Sadly, the subsequent Liberal government has learned nothing from the opprobrium that resulted from their opponent’s example, and have followed the exact same template, somehow expecting a different result in the context of an upcoming election. They are soon to be disabused of any illusions they may have held that their behaviour would somehow be perceived more positively by the electorate.
19 A loose affiliation of left wing pressure groups (The Socialist Alliance, Get Up, etc.), the mainstream media (Fairfax, ABC), unions (CFMEU, et al.), Marxist academics, and assorted vested interests (particularly Global Warming advocates and Renewable Energy carpet-baggers, such as Al Gore, et. al).
20 Who am I to interfere with Shakespeare’s recipe of secret herbs and spices?
21 A statement meant to highlight the malevolence of the witches, but I can think of no better summation of the nature of journalism in the present day than this.
22 Malcolm Turnbull has always harboured but one ambition, to be Prime Minister and reshape Australia in his own image. He needed little encouragement, but a fawning and complicit media hanging on his every word, and undermining his opponent at every turn, certainly made his challenge and grasp for unelected power inevitable.
23 Anyone who expects that the mainstream media will report the truth impartially and for the betterment of our society, clearly hasn’t been paying enough attention.
24 Kowen Forest is the pine forest on the outskirts of the nation’s capital, Canberra, and so was an appropriate substitute for Forres in the play, given that it alludes to the Australian political landscape in my version.
25,26 Godwin Grech was the senior public servant at the heart of the “Utegate” scandal, an embarrassing fiasco that first highlighted Turnbull’s complete lack of judgement and hubris. It is only fitting to use his name as the battle in which Macbeth rises to undeserved prominence, albeit through his conspicuous cowardice.
27 Thane of Cawdor equates to the role of Communication’s minister, the portfolio Turnbull held down in such underwhelming fashion prior to his coup. By handling all the King’s announcements (appearances on the sympathetic ABC in particular) and dealing with his communications, both Turnbull and Macbeth were in prime position to make their play for overthrowing the incumbent leader.
28 Turnbull’s circuitous speaking style, full of asides, pauses, non-sequiturs and tangents, gives lie to his reputation as a great communicator. For the first few months of his Prime Ministership, I was concerned he may never actually finish a sentence. Granted, he certainly started many, but so often he lost his way half way through and failed to find the trail again by the end. A casual glance at various transcripts of some of his off the cuff, and even many of his scripted comments will no doubt confirm what I duly observed.
29 Turnbull’s inflated sense of himself is unsustainable. He will, in my opinion, come undone at the upcoming election, barring an underhanded preference deal and an unholy alliance/coalition with the Greens, which would be the ultimate vile betrayal of his party and its core principles. That being said, I wouldn’t put that behind the scenes double dealing past him at all. If he plays it “straight”, ignominious defeat, or at the very least a major comeuppance, is almost inevitable.
30 Laurie Oakes, the doyen of the Canberra Press gallery, whose hatred of John Howard was instrumental in starting this mess in 2007, and who has helped facilitate Australia’s ignominious slide into banana republic status through his rather blindly partisan “expert” evaluations of the nation’s current political status. Well done, Laurie.
31 Brendan Nelson was Leader of the Opposition after John Howard lost the 2007 election, before being deposed in a leadership spill by Malcolm Turnbull.
32 1500 men contrasts with the initial estimate of 1000, suggesting that, like the fisherman with his catch, Turnbull will continue to embellish his achievements for effect and to garnish unearned praise.
33 Refers again to Scott Morrison’s effort to have a foot in each court in the overthrow of Abbott, a perceived disloyalty and duplicitousness that will likely remove any hope he may have held for his future leadership aspirations.
34 Blackburn cove is the small cove in Sydney Harbour immediately below Point Piper. Nice Scottish name if ever there was one.
35 Julie Bishop represents the federal seat of Curtin in Western Australia, being elected in 1998. During the lead up to Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership challenge, rumours and leaks began to emanate from unnamed sources in WA against Abbott, and also his chief of staff Peta Credlin, with the purpose of undermining their integrity and worthiness to govern. Subsequent events indicate that Ms Bishop, or her staff, were the likely source of these destabilising leaks, which if true is an act of political bastardry of the highest order, given her position of trust as deputy leader.
36 In Shakespeare’s original version, this dialogue refers to Lady Macbeth looking to be instilled with the courage to perform the deadly deed upon the King herself. In my version, she has something else quite different in mind.
37 In my version of the play, Macbeth’s lack of sexual interest and vigour is not only the instigating factor for Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness, but also acts as a metaphor for Malcolm Turnbull’s “all show and no go” persona, where he is always “promising much but delivering little”. “All style, no substance” would be yet another analogy that springs readily to mind.
38 The problems that now beset the Turnbull government and the Liberal party in being re-elected on July 2, 2016 should have been obvious from the start, given the voters complete rejection, and their own strident criticism of the dysfunctional revolving door politics of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor governments, for precisely the same behaviour in which Turnbull has just engaged. They have indeed drunk from the chalice that they themselves have poisoned, being now pilloried for actions they had once mocked, having revelled in their criticism of their political adversaries for exactly this same sort of duplicitous behaviour.
39 Four and fifty blows (54), one for each of those “turncoats” who voted in favour of Malcolm Turnbull, thus betraying Tony Abbott in his first term as PM, whom I believe had a right to expect far greater loyalty, especially given his electoral mandate from the comprehensive 2013 election win.
40 I have left this section largely intact from the original text, as I have in various other sections to follow where appropriate, for the sake of continuity and to keep some link beyond plot to the play’s source material, as an oblique satirical commentary on the present political situation through the prism of Shakespeare’s play.
41 The porter, as played by Clive Palmer, is a Falstaffian figure who is first seen inebriated on duty, and then as a shiftless and lazy tub of lard who reluctantly performs his few uncomplicated duties, while grumbling incessantly in discontent from go to whoa.
42 Clive Palmer herewith launches his embittered soliloquy about the various members of his party, former and current. In this instance he refers to Jacqui Lambie, a former member of the defence forces, previously notorious for punching her commanding officer, and who became renowned in her brief and unproductive time in parliament (initially within the PUP, but then as an independent after a falling out with her benefactor) for her foul-mouthed and ignorant demeanour, and a general lack of decorum. Of course, she became a media darling of sorts among the cognoscenti at the ABC, who no doubt saw her as quaint and earthy, rather than as a loud mouthed “bogan” who was clearly unfit for public office.
43 Glenn Lazarus was another former member of Clive Palmer’s party, a famous Rugby League player who quit the party after his wife was unceremoniously sacked. The biblical Lazarus resided in the town of Bethany, where he died and then rose from the dead allegedly at Jesus’ instigation. It remains to be seen whether Glenn will be quite so lucky.
44 Dio Wang, the third leg of the PUP (Palmer United Party) trifecta, and the only remaining senator still in the party that sponsored him, was a former civil engineer and CEO of Australasian Resources, in which Clive Palmer has a 70% controlling interest. He has also courted controversy by actively defending China’s human rights record, the Tiananmen square massacre, and their rigidly enforced “one child policy”. His senate position is now jeopardised by the Double Dissolution election called by Malcolm Turnbull for July 2.
45 One of Clive Palmer’s most enduring claims to fame would no doubt be his somewhat odd predilection for scale model animatronic dinosaurs, of which he has 160 which “adorn” his Coolum resort in Queensland, making it the largest dinosaur theme park in the world. This monument to eccentricity was entirely counterproductive to the profitability of the resort, which has lost money and corporate sponsorship hand over fist since.
46,47&49 Clive Palmer’s business interests have suffered a significant decline since his foray into politics, with his Queensland Nickel company being forced into voluntary receivership in 2016, and his personal wealth having dropped according to BRW from $5 billion in 2011, to $1.4 billion in 2015, largely to dropping commodity prices, grandiose indulgences in football franchises, etc., and in poor business decisions and failed legal challenges.
48 Clive Palmer donated “liberally” to the Queensland Liberal Party but, like the Godfather of Hollywood lore, he expected quid pro quo favours from the incoming Campbell Newman government in looking preferentially upon his investments in the Galilee basin, where Palmer’s Waratah Coal subsequently lost out to rival GVK-Hancock to build a rail corridor to link the Galilee and Bowen basins with the Abbot Point coal terminal. Palmer failed to receive any special consideration, but was instead treated by the Queensland Liberals on the same level playing field as his rivals, as should rightfully have been the case, even in spite of Palmer’s long-standing membership and large financial donations to the Liberal party. Thereafter came the mother of all public spats and an almighty falling out, leading to Palmer’s resignation from the party. Premier Campbell Newman and his treasurer Mr Seeney were publicly highly critical of Mr. Palmer and his behaviour, and Mr Seeney subsequently made a decision to audit the billionaire’s mining operations in Queensland which further deepened the rift. Furthermore, when Queensland Nickel later requested a government bail out, these overtures were, quite rightly it would seem, “politely” refused.
50,51,52,53&54 Clive Palmer’s various enemies and foes include such luminaries as the two Bishops (Julie and especially speaker Bronwyn), one Abbott (Tony), a soldier who became a mayor (Campbell Newman), shysters (various lawyers in his multiple court cases), while as a member of the World Leadership Alliance he has been rubbing shoulders with the ruling elite. The Charlatan reference, of course, refers to the world’s leading charlatan, the mediocre Harvard graduate turned failed presidential candidate turned high priest of the pseudo-religion of Man Made Global Warming, Al Gore, who quite openly courted Palmer on a visit to Australia and thereby helped ensure that Tony Abbott’s repeal of the Carbon Tax had significant amendments added to the Legislation as a compromise to allow it to pass the senate (which required Palmer party votes), thus making it very possible to reverse this decision in future and maintain the potential for Gore’s desire to establish an Australian ETS. While the foes above were clearly Palmer’s fondest wish to be consigned to hellfire, there might well also be a place for his friends above as well, with the aforementioned Mr Gore particularly leaping to mind.
55,56&57 Mark Textor, media adviser to Malcolm Turnbull, infamously suggested after the overthrow of Tony Abbott that the conservative base of the Liberal party no longer mattered, assuming that those conservatives were so “rusted on”, like their Labor counterparts, that they would have no alternative but to continue to vote Liberal regardless of policy changes leaning toward a more left-of-centre direction. This is in spite of the cacophonous chorus of disapproval, particularly from conservative commentators such as Andrew Bolt, who railed long and loud against the wisdom and the validity of this assertion, and not to mention the literally thousands of blog postings from disenfranchised conservatives openly stating that for the first in their lives they would not vote for the party if Turnbull was still the leader. On July 2, therefore, Mr Textor is destined to find that his summation is a quite dramatic, and dare I say possibly fatal, miscalculation.
58 Corey Bernardi famously overstated the “slippery slope” argument against “same sex marriage” legislation by referring to bestiality as a potential consequence, which was drawing a rather long bow at best. This opened him to ridicule, when an anti-polygamy stance would likely have received a somewhat less hostile reception.
59 Scone castle was Scotland’s seat of power and centre of government probably from at least 908 AD, but Scone itself certainly was chosen as the capital by the first king of the Scots, the famous Kenneth MacAlpine in 843AD.
60 The Stone of Destiny was indeed to be found on the grounds of Scone Palace, and was the crowning place of Kings. It was believed that no king had a right to reign as King of Scots unless he had first been crowned at Scone upon the Stone of Scone.
61 53 Loyalist thanes refers to the 53 members of the Liberal party who voted, along with Turnbull himself, to overthrow sitting PM Tony Abbott in the second 2015 leadership spill.
62 This soliloquy of Macbeth regarding his fears of Banquo’s succession is presented verbatim from Shakespeare’s original to highlight the similarity of mindset that no doubt motivated Malcolm Turnbull in his not so subtle undermining of his own treasurer, Scott Morrison, after his ascent to the position of Prime Minister. Turnbull deliberately, in my view, kept his treasurer “out of the loop” and then “hung him out to dry” on several occasions on matters of future economic policy, then often directly contradicted him shortly thereafter to make Morrison appear less of a future, potential leadership alternative to himself. Although Turnbull stopped short of “killing him off” completely, as Macbeth does in the play itself, he reduced Morrison’s public standing and reputation effectively enough that any future challenge from him is now certain to fail, especially when combined with the trust in him many of his colleagues had lost due to his fence-sitting in the coup against Abbott in the first instance. To make a chess analogy- that’s Check and Mate to Turnbull!
63 This references the recent trend among the politically correct brigade to preface every public meeting or announcement with a “Welcome and Acknowledgement to Country” which has become an obligatory mantra in Australian public life. While clearly an attempt to promote reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, its repetitiveness and the sense of obligation renders the alleged sentiments behind it meaningless, and actually encourages the very resentments it aims to palliate.
64 The Kings of Scotland listed by Macbeth, drawn from the House of Alpin line of succession that lasted from 848 AD to 1034 AD, who were then succeeded by the house of Dunkeld, of whom Duncan 1st was the initial King to reign immediately prior to Macbeth in 1040 AD. In Macbeth’s speech where all due respect to the achievements of past monarchs is made, Duncan is notably omitted in spite of his successful reign, much in the manner that Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged the great Prime Ministers of the past in his speech and yet conspicuously failed to even mention his predecessor, Abbott, who had managed many notable achievements in his brief tenure, including three free trade agreements, stopping the people smuggling trade in its tracks, launching a long overdue Royal Commission into Union governance, abolishing the Carbon and Mining taxes, etc, etc.
65 The body count noticeable rises with every retelling. Such shameless self promotion is the mark of the narcissist, and if the shoe fits…….
66,67 Malcolm Turnbull’s first months in power have been marked by his repeated use of mantras of just such platitudes, with vague pleas to his alleged “vision” for a “progressive” and “innovative” and “agile” economy, with little or no substance anywhere to be found to give such weasel words any “meat on its bones”. Many of these statements of purpose by Macbeth at his coronation are derived from Turnbull’s victory speech, as well as from other speeches he has recently made, which are helpfully reproduced on his website, in all their glory.
68 The NBN network finds its medieval counterpart in Macbeth’s carrier pigeon scheme, having been formulated on the back of a beer coaster by Kevin Rudd, and then further mismanaged by Turnbull in his role as Communications Minister. Like the carrier pigeon example given in the play, the NBN is highly likely to be an expensive white elephant, and destined to be outmoded by the time it eventually rolls out at the snail’s pace at which governments of all political stripe seem to specialise.
69 The “sceat”, plural “sceattas”, were the medieval Scottish equivalent of the current day British pound, with bronze sceats obviously of lesser worth than the rarer and more precious silver sceat, which I set arbitrarily at 100 bronze to every silver sceat for the purposes of the play.
70 The Clan Energy Fund is the medieval Scottish equivalent of the modern Australian Clean Energy Fund. Both are monumental wastes of money in service of pie in the sky schemes of little practical merit to save the populace from a non-problem with non-solutions.
71 The “ell” is a medieval Scottish unit of measurement, the equivalent of a cubit (the length from a man’s elbow to tip of his fingers), approximately one half a yard.
72 Windmills as a source of power make a small modicum of sense in a medieval, pre- fossil fuel society, though as I pointed out subsequently they are of little benefit whatsoever in the frequent periods when the wind doesn’t blow with sufficient strength or regularity. Since modern day Scotland is now littered with monstrous windmills on every vacant hillside, it seems only fitting to include them in Macbeth’s plans for the future, wherein he can be said to have started the rot.
73 The need to supplement the wind power with human muscle, in this instance in harness with a halter, could perhaps have been, fancifully of course, the inspiration for the phrase: “a millstone around their necks”.
74 The “renewable” and “sustainable” energy generation strategies are the false idols at which both Macbeth and his modern counterpart, Turnbull, appear to worship.
75,76 Malcolm Turnbull did foreshadow an increase in the GST from 10% to 15%, and for Australia’s various states to take over responsibility for all health funding and provision of certain community services from their federal counterparts, before abruptly doing an about face leaving State Premiers nonplussed and his Treasurer embarrassed being left having to explain the issue away.
77,78 Malcolm Turnbull’s first big ticket announcement as PM was the deal to build 12 French submarines in South Australia for $50 billion to be completed by 2060, a monumental amount of money for submarines that are likely to be well and truly outmoded by the time they are fully operational in their entirety as a fleet.
79,80 Malcolm Turnbull has always harboured ambition to be Prime Minister, but his even more deeply held desire is for Australia to be a republic, and for a Presidential style leadership modelled on America’s disastrous example. Of course, if he could be Australia’s first “El Presidente”, then all the better.
81,84 First Murderer- Christopher Pyne, a trusted minister in Abbott’s cabinet with a high profile media presence, whose betrayal must have been very hard to accept for Mr Abbott when his removal was complete. Once famously referred to as a “mincing poodle” by then Deputy PM Julia Gillard, a woman who clearly liked to dish out the insults, but then tended subsequently to get rather precious if any negative connotation headed her way.
82,83 Second murderer- Arthur Sinodinos, accused (possibly unfairly) in an ICAC inquiry into dealings of Australian Water Holdings, of which he was a director, and its political donations. He was forced to step aside from his appointed position as Assistant Treasurer in the Abbott government, and in spite of great loyalty shown to him by PM Abbott to resist calls to sack him (and to keep the job open in his absence), Mr Sinodinos repaid this loyalty by voting against Abbott at the first opportunity when Turnbull challenged him.
85,86,87 Third murderer- Mal Brough. One of the chief supporters and behind the scenes movers and shakers in Malcolm Turnbull’s overthrow of Abbott. Currently under police investigation for his role in leaking contents of former speaker Peter Slipper’s official Parliamentary diary in the James Ashby/ Peter Slipper sexual harassment case. “Be just and fear not ” is the traditional Ashby family motto on its coat of arms, words Mal Brough would have done well to heed.
88 Fourth Murderer- Ian McFarlane is a prime example of a man who backed the wrong horse, having supported Turnbull in the false belief that his career prospects would advance, only to find himself on the outer being dropped from the ministry in September 2015. He then tried unsuccessfully to defect to the National party but this move was blocked by Queensland’s LNP executive, and so he was forced into quitting politics altogether prior to the upcoming 2016 election. A “Pyrrhic” victory if ever there was one.
89 Duncan’s ghost, like that of Abbott, can be seen sitting on the “back bench”, a constant reminder to Macbeth, and therefore also to Turnbull, of their previous heinous betrayal of their leader.
90 To some extent, Tony Abbott has not been as “fortunate” as King Duncan, because the malicious comments and false assertions, the snide innuendo, and the bile and venom directed at him have continued unabated long after he was deposed from the leadership, where Duncan’s death at least gave him some peace from the relentless machinations and abuse of his opponents.
91,92 King Duncan’s achievements, like those of his counterpart Abbott, include the abolition of Carbon and Mining taxes, both of which were designed to stifle investment and industry.
93 For the first 8-9 months of Turnbull’s government, he traded heavily upon Abbott’s achievements without once acknowledging his adversary, instead basking in the reflected glory of Abbott’s achievements, including one anti-domestic violence scheme (Abbott was Minister for Women in his government and toiled for 15 months on the policy) for which Turnbull then took sole undeserved credit. The policy was released only days after Turnbull came to power and was entirely instigated by his predecessor, and for this announcement Turnbull was universally praised in spite of having nothing whatsoever to do with its formulation.
94,95 The Abbott government, while far from perfect, achieved many positives in two short years, and began the unenviable task of curtailing wasteful government programs, dissolving or amalgamating the proliferation of governmental and quasi-governmental regulatory bodies that have metastasised throughout the economic landscape, only for these reforms to be stopped in their tracks by Turnbull, whose inclinations represent yet further expansion of the big spending, big government bureaucratic model that has led us into financial peril, and whose further failures are soon likely to become ever more stark and real as their ever-spiralling costs collide with economic reality headfirst in the coming decades. And, be assured, when the inevitable comes, it won’t be pretty. Debt has spiralled from a $40 billion surplus in 2007 prior to Rudd’s ascension to a deficit of over $400 billion federally sometime in 2017 highly likely, and with State and Federal combined debt likely to reach $1 trillion by the middle of next decade, a frightening thought for Australia’s highly vulnerable economy.
96,97 Hecate in Greek mythology was the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, the moon, ghosts and necromancy, and as such she represents an extremely apt fit for the duplicitous and scheming Bronwyn Bishop. She guides the three witches in their evil mission in the play to dethrone King Duncan, and she was certainly instrumental in dethroning her PM in Abbott in the contemporary drama that unfolded. The “gyrating maelstrom” referred to is in reference to her infamous “Choppergate” scandal, where she claimed over $5,000 for a half hour chopper flight to Geelong for a fund raiser instead of negotiating traffic by road like normal people. This was a breech of parliamentary protocols because it was a fund-raising event rather than on government business, but rather than acknowledging her error of judgment with a mea culpa, she arrogantly tried to assume the moral high ground and thereby caused her PM Tony Abbott no end of grief in trying to defend her from calls for her resignation. Once the damage became irretrievable, there was no other choice but to ask her to resign from the Speaker role she had been fulfilling within the Abbott government, and Tony Abbott’s loyalty to her was repaid at the next opportunity by her voting for Turnbull’s faction in the spill. Then she tried to rewrite the history of the event to suggest Abbott was too intimidated to notify her of the decision for her to step down, which fooled no one, except of course the compliant press corps who happily parroted her nonsense in spite of its clear disconnect from events that were already on public record. She did indeed consign herself to “a dismal and fatal end”, wherein she embarrassingly lost preselection in her long-held safe Liberal seat of MacKellar for the 2016 election, thereafter to fade off into the aether and hopefully never to be seen again. Good riddance.
98,99,100,101 Among the most reprehensible tactics used to tear down Tony Abbott’s reputation, and to justify the coup against him, were the promulgation of rumours of an affair between Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin. These rumours emanated and were given credence by journalist, Nikki Savva, in her book “The Road to Ruin” about the last days of Abbott’s government, wherein Ms. Savva conveniently failed to interview either party, nor did she mention her rather major conflict of interest in that her husband, Vince Woolcock, was one of Malcolm Turnbull’s most senior advisors. Ms. Savva also is well known to bear a severe grudge against Ms. Credlin, for her allegedly trying to have Savva sacked by her newspaper editor, which whether true or not doesn’t justify the presentation of rumour as fact, especially rumour which could easily jeopardise the marriages of both Abbott and Credlin, when there is every likelihood that such an affair, which both parties vigorously deny, never actually took place. An example of gutter journalism at its finest. So, clearly Ms. Savva need look no further as to how she managed to land the role of one of the wicked witches in my version of the play!
102 Again, Shakespeare is clearly such a good chef, that I dare not alter the ingredients even slightly, or else they might lose their flavour, or their potency.
103 The first of three apparitions which appear to Macbeth, each representing one of his three preceding PMs. The first being Tony Abbott, as evidenced by his conspicuously prominent ears, which are somewhat of an unfortunate trademark.
104,105,106,107 The first apparition, prior to warning Macbeth to beware Macduff, outlines advice for his leadership, based on Abbott’s “3 word slogan” examples, namely to maintain strict border control to “stop the boats”, “axe the tax” by removing the hated economy destroying carbon tax, and “repay the debt” and “stop the waste” accumulated by the irresponsible expenditure of Kevin Rudd and his pathetic treasurer and partner in fiscal disaster, Wayne Swan.
108,109,110,111,112 The second apparition, former PM Julia Gillard, renowned as much for her serial image changes (just “who is the real Julia?” remains a mystery for the ages) as her extreme pro-Union sympathies, her repeated default to class warfare rhetoric, but most especially for repeatedly playing the gender card whenever any criticism of her, however justified, was in the offing. Her infamous misogyny speech, directed unjustly against Tony Abbott, was one of the worst abuses of her position of power, being merely a transparent, cynical and shallow attempt to divert attention from the real cause of her leadership instability, that being her predecessor Kevin Rudd, who was serially leaking against her and undermining her at every turn. Of course, like most socialists and especially erstwhile ex-university Trotskyites, Gillard happily bought into the Global warming narrative, and in spite of promising “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”, she only a few weeks after the election delivered us all exactly that: a carbon tax under a government she led. She then warns Macbeth that he cannot be vanquished by “one of woman born”, thereby giving his boundless overconfidence a fatal boost.
113 The third apparition, former PM Kevin Rudd, has such a chequered history that his warnings to Macbeth could easily have been longer.
114 Kevin Rudd’s most famous contribution, from the early days of his ascension, was his apology to the so called “stolen generation” of Aboriginal Australians. This heartfelt apology was almost universally acclaimed as a positive and essential step toward reconciliation, even if the apology itself does, arguably, take certain liberties with the true history of early European settlement in Australia, and the general treatment of Aborigines and more importantly the motivations of those allegedly involved in the removal and protection of children during that era.
115 The Heiner affair was a black mark on the Queensland political landscape, and involved a coverup of child sexual abuse at the John Oxley Youth detention centre, including the rape of a 14 year old Aboriginal girl, that led to the shredding of reams of documents and the aborting of an independent inquiry in 1990, during the first term of the Goss Labor government. A subsequent audit by QC David Rofe recommended up to 68 prima facie charges that could be brought against public officials past and present for their handling of the case. These included Mr Goss’s former Chief-of-staff and subsequent Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and the subsequent Governor General Quentin Bryce, suggesting that such dubious behaviour was no obstacle whatsoever to receiving the rewards of attaining the highest of public offices in the entire nation.
116 One of the many controversies that dogged the disaster-prone Rudd Labor government was the so called “pink batts scheme”, a subsidised home insulation scheme to allegedly improve energy efficiency of homes. This only served to encourage “fly by night” operators who sent untrained installers to install often inferior products that eventually led to several house fires and the deaths of 4 of the inexperienced workers put in danger by the poorly regulated scheme.
117 The principal disaster that the Rudd government was totally responsible for above all others was the deliberate relaxation of the previously effective policies of PM John Howard’s “Pacific Solution”, measures that had reduced asylum seeker boat arrivals to near zero and saw only 4 people in detention prior to the floodgates being opened. This exercise of misplaced moral posturing, and symbolism over substance eventually led to the deaths of at least 1200 people who perished being smuggled into the country on the high seas. In spite of this glaringly obvious policy failure, monumental in its stupidity, catastrophic in its effect, and completely counterproductive to the allegedly humanitarian intentions of those involved, neither the politicians involved nor the media enablers who cheered the policy change on would accept any responsibility for their actions, nor recant their beliefs once the disaster unfolded, thus reflecting very poorly on their sense of personal morality.
118 Finally, the Rudd Labor government’s response to the Global Financial Crisis, with excessive fiscal stimulus frittered away for little concrete benefit to show for it, and thus setting Australia on the course to fiscal ruin that has continued unhindered ever since, with debt ballooning at an alarming rate with very little likelihood of ever returning to surplus in our lifetimes.
119 Kevin Rudd has aspirations to obtaining high office at the United Nations, with even a potential run at the Secretary General position mooted at one stage. Not content with ruining Australia with his narcissism and incompetence, he now sets his eye on the world for his special brand of epic failure.
120 Shortly after the overthrow of Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop was conspicuous in being seen repeatedly going on runs and exercising in trendy exercise gear, like some kind of ersatz fitness icon. She seemed to become ever more gaunt, seemingly losing weight that she could scarcely afford in the quest to project this particular image of herself.
121 Brian Loughnane is a business and political adviser. He was the Federal Director of the Australian Liberal Party from February 2003 until January 2016, and Campaign Director for the centre-right Coalition parties in the 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013 Federal elections. He is also the husband of Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin.
122 How else would a visiting doctor from Limerick express himself, but in his “native tongue”, using the form of the humble limerick?
123 St Vitus’ dance is the traditional term for Sydenham’s chorea, a movement disorder associated with rheumatic fever characterised by rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements primarily affecting the face, hands and feet. To the untrained medieval eye, any thrashing about would mimic this condition, and clearly the treatment Lady Macbeth received would be enough for anyone to flail their limbs about in just such a fashion.
124,125 As an ardent believer in anthropogenic climate change, Malcolm Turnbull believes that mankind has a significant measure of control over the wrathful elements of weather, and the power to modify the climate globally through his own actions. While regional changes certainly do occur with altered land use and deforestation, the global climate remains imperious and relatively impervious to man’s puny influence, the scale of which gives lie to our hubristic belief in our own importance within the natural world.
126 The “green tide” of Birnam wood moving unto Dunsinane castle is an apt metaphor for the current contemporary political situation, where the Green Party wields a disproportionate level of power and influence in government policy, a figurative green tide that threatens to envelope all in its path. It is Turnbull’s pandering to “green” policies, toward which he is inordinately sympathetic, that will inevitably prove his undoing, in synchronicity with his dramatic counterpart, Macbeth.
Random quotes from the play, including some that never quite made the final text unexpurgated (with translations and/or explanatory notes appended):
“By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.”
(The press gallery was heard to utter as Macbeth (Turnbull) arrives for a press conference.)
“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.”
(An apt description of the policy paralysis that has accompanied Macbeth’s (Turnbull) rule, with everything on the never-never, with much ado about nothing, and the death knell for the party he allegedly represents.)
“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
(Macbeth’s (Turnbull) political capital and the all too brief honeymoon with the press corps is predestined to vanish in a puff of smoke within an instant. The clock is ticking and his 15 minutes of fame are almost at an end. In spite of a surfeit of puff and bluster, the soufflé is about to collapse leaving a limp and unpalatable residue for the many cooks responsible to have to clean up.)
“Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble!”
(The denizens of Fairfax media are clearly having a brainstorming session, seeing what “news” they can cook up for general consumption. Amazing what a concoction you can brew with a bit of eye of newt and tongue of bat!)
“Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”
(Those who crave the spotlight sometimes don’t count on the intense scrutiny that goes with it. You can only run from the truth for so long before it, and your past, catches up with you, as Macbeth (Turnbull) proceeds to find out.)
“Look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under it.”
(Excellent advice given to Macbeth (Turnbull) by his advisers before a Q&A appearance, advice that he obviously took completely to heart, and then ran with it)
“Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.”
(Now if that doesn’t sum up our waffling usurper, then nothing does!)
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair”
(The ethos of the modern mainstream media, as it has evolved, in a nutshell. Wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them on their collective arse!)
“Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief!
(Some need little encouragement to treachery, and Lady Macbeth (Julie Bishop) is just the lady to do it, by fair means or foul)
“I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on the other.”
(All style and no substance, Macbeth (Turnbull) has but one quality in spades, that being a raw and naked ambition to power)
“Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters.”
(The hollow man cometh! Macbeth’s face is a blank canvas upon which any interpretation can be made in our collective desire to see substance in the insubstantial, intelligence and foresight where there is none)
“Receive what cheer you may. The night is long that never finds the day.”
(The dark abyss that the party has fallen into by following Macbeth (Turnbull) and his ascendency to the throne appears endless, and little hope remains for the restoration of sanity and reason to bring them back toward the light)
“T’is safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.”
(Following Labor’s dysfunctional example is apparently preferable to loyal service to one’s rightful leader in the interests of the party, and the nation as a whole. Usurping the throne ain’t all it’s cracked up to be either, not by a long shot, at least according to our friendly neighborhood psychopath-in-chief, Lady Macbeth)
“screw your courage to the sticking place”
(What? No foreplay?)
“Nothing in his life became him like leaving it.”
(And yet he speaks so highly of you!)
“Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles.”
(Ain’t that the truth! And we’re living the “dream” as we speak)
“Alas, poor country, almost afraid to know itself! It cannot be called our mother, but our grave.”
(Sadly, our beloved country’s epitaph)
“Fit to govern? No, not fit to live.”
(A trenchant observation of Lord Wentworth of Glamis castle, if there ever was one)
“Out, damned spot”
(Another trip to the plastic surgeon perhaps?)
“How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.”
(Not a tale for the mother’s group, I grant you, but certainly that Lady Macbeth is one determined lady, and clearly a piece of work into the bargain!)