Made-up Macbeth

Do you remember the plot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth? Apparently, neither does anybody else

"Tell me the story of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth.” It’s a simple question, really. When asked, most people will say, “Oh, I read that in high school.” Then they proceed to mangle the plot, confidently. (The best parts are when they start elaborating.)

The following narrative recounts — in the actual words of Spokane- and Coeur d’Alene-area people who, like you, fell asleep during English class — what really goes down in the tragedy of Macbeth.

Names have been withheld to protect some very confused people.

Macbeth is known as “the Scottish play.” Where does it take place? ... Hamlet takes place in Denmark, right? So Macbeth is in England, I hope. Or France. I want to say France, but who knows?

Some bunch of witches decides that something is wrong, so they cast some spells. They’re naked, including the one with one eye. (But one of them was pretty hot.)

When I think of Macbeth, I think of the queen.

(I can’t remember her name.) In the movie I saw, she had big hands — I mean, huge hands for a woman. I don’t know if it was written that way, or if the actress was just unfortunate.

His dad’s name is King Something, and Macbeth is a knight, I guess. Oh, he’s a thane? Is that where you help out the other knights and give them their swords, or whatever?

Wait, wait, wait … Macbeth — people think if he became king, it would be a really good thing, but he doesn’t want to be king. Then he gets hooked up with some woman who convinces him that, together, they should kill his father.

She really wants Macbeth to be king, which involves killing Macduff. (He’s married to Lady Macduff. She has a bird.)

Macbeth goes along with his wife’s plan, but not with much enthusiasm. For him, it’s like cleaning out the garage.

Lady Macbeth would have killed the king herself, except that she was washing her hair that day.

All this causes Macbeth to kill his best friend, Banquo. No, they both kill him — no, Macbeth kills him and then Lady Macbeth has to go clean up the blood, and she’s driven insane.

“Ach! Will these hands never be clean?” That’s Lady Macbeth, after cleaning out a Volkswagen engine.

Then the Macbeths host a dinner party, and isn’t there some room-swapping? They go to bed and all sorts of mischief happens.

The king falls out of love with his daughter. And then there are the witches, stirring a big vat of cannibals.

An act or two or three go by. Then Macbeth kills Macduff. Or vice versa. A MacSomebody dies.

I was trying to remember all this stuff from Scotland, PA, the movie — so, like, did they kill him in the burger joint, or what?

Everything I think I know about Macbeth turns out to be about Hamlet. Or else about the Moonlighting “Taming of the Shrew” episode. Or maybe Kenneth Branagh.

For a synopsis of Macbeth and links to the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, which has created a comic play out of people’s half-baked recollections of Romeo and Juliet (a concept of which this article is a complete rip-off), visit

With additional reporting by Rebecca McNeill, a director and actor in Coeur d’Alene.

Brush up your Shakespeare by attending Ignite’s readers theater performances of Macbeth on May 14-16. Visit

Spokane County Interstate Fair @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Through Sept. 19
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About The Author

Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen is a former senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things.