Boozy Plays: Macbeth

Happy Friday, everybody! Only two more sleeps ’til Stratford!!! The packing, organizing, and ticket printing have begun and Macbeth has been re-read. (Fun fact: I played Lady Mac in high school and one of the witches in a comedic musical adaptation I performed professionally.) So now, in the midst of my uncontrollable excitement, I must put together a cohesive Boozy Plays. I can do it! 

It all begins on a blasted heath, deserted but for three witches who have come together amidst thunder and rain. They plan their fateful meeting with Macbeth. There’s no turning back now…  

Macbeth has everything. Revenge. Political ambition. Murder. Betrayal. Witches. Kilts. A tormented king. A strong, independent, crazy badass of a leading lady. Battles. It’s dark and intense and contains a little of all the worst traits of humanity. It’s a delicious tragedy as virtually every character is faced with death and demons in a power struggle that begins thanks to the prophecy of some crones on a hill. 

If you don’t know the story of Macbeth… You really should get on it. I’ll try and give you a quick breakdown without spoilers, but seriously just read it. It’s one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays so just go for it! (PS the length of Macbeth was totally on purpose as James I was known for his impatience.)

Anyway, Macbeth begins as battle ends. We meet the victorious generals Macbeth and Banquo when they are greeted by the three witches and their prophecies. They tell Macbeth he will be king and his ambitions begin to swell. Now, Macbeth’s ambition is no match for his wife’s, for Lady Macbeth convinces him to kill King Duncan and take the throne immediately. The plan is hatched and executed, though Macbeth is consumed by guilt and doubt and Lady Macbeth takes over a fair share of the proceedings.

The witches prophecies included that general Banquo would father a line of kings. Though King Macbeth is successful, this part of the prophecy worries him. He orders Banquo and his son, Fleance, murdered. Banquo is killed, but Fleance escapes. Macbeth, now having been tormented by the ghost of Banquo and becoming increasingly disturbed, visits the witches again. He is given more prophecies. He is told that no one of woman born shall harm him and that he will be safe until Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane. The prophecies make no sense and Macbeth begins to feel secure knowing that all men are born of women and trees don’t walk… But it’s a tragedy so of course everything goes to hell in a handbasket and Macbeth finds ruin.

In case you couldn’t tell, Macbeth is the Shakespearean play I’m most looking forward to seeing this coming week. It’s a tremendous show – intense and passionate and desperate – and I can’t wait to see Stratford’s take on it. 

For this play I initially thought to pair it will something heavy, deep, complex, and, preferably, red. While a port might hit the mark, I think going with something Scottish is more appropo. So I’m recommending Scotch Ale. It’s a strong ale believed to have been invented in Edinburgh. The beer is often sweet and full-bodied and has the complex smokiness similar to that of whisky due to the type of malt used in the brewing process. 

Sláinte!

-A

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