A powerful Lady MacBeth

MILK FOR GALL: Cast as the manipulative Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s popular tragedy, Macbeth, actor Beth Morton says the woman who would be queen is fun to play. Picture by Elenor Gill

NO WOMAN in any of Shakespeare’s tragedies is as powerful as Lady Macbeth, said actor Beth Morton.

“With Macbeth, it’s kind of like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth," Morton said. In Unity Theatre’s upcoming production of the popular tragedy, Morton plays the manipulative wife of the doomed general.

Macbeth is often referred to by the superstitious as the Scottish Play because of its supernatural elements. Even Lady Macbeth seems to be touched by that darkness. She hears a hoarse raven where her husband’s friend Banquo sees a swallow.

The first we see of Lady Macbeth is as she reads her husband’s letter that tells of prophecies by three weird sisters.

Macbeth and Banquo encounter the weird sisters on their return from the battlefield. By the time Macbeth gets home, his wife has already invoked spirits to fill her with cruelty, thicken her blood and stifle any remorse about murdering a king.

In the Elizabethan mind, the king was an agent of God. Even the twisted Goth-queen Tamora in Shakespeare’s Tarantino-esque Titus Andronicus doesn’t kill a king.

“She has made the decision before he even gets home,” Morton said.

“He comes in from the war and he’s like ‘love me, my wife’, but she’s like, ‘we’ve got work to do’.”

They never show much love towards one another, Morton said.

Lady Macbeth is a dominant figure in acts one and two of the five-act play. Her focus is Macbeth. She can’t be queen without him. If he is in power, she gets more power.

“She says he is gutless. She says these horrible things like plucking a newborn baby from her breast and dashing its brains out. She kind of asks to be made a man. That’s when her power blossoms and grows.

“She has no compassion. The only thing she is scared of is being caught.”

By the third act, Macbeth is so overrun with the number of murders he needs to execute to stay safe he becomes oblivious to Lady Macbeth.

“He gets crazy so she tries to get him uncrazy. The only reason she cares he’s going crazy is because people notice.”

Although nothing is told of her past in the play, one line suggests Lady Macbeth once had a child. That loss could have been a tipping point for her, Morton said. Ambition has taken over her life.

“It’s a sad series of events. Macbeth becomes a serial killer to clear himself of the first murder.

“They sort of switch roles. She steps back. I think Macbeth’s murders lead to her insanity.”

Morton first encountered the woman who would be queen when she performed Lady Macbeth at school in the famous “Out damned spot!” scene. Having invoked spirits of mercilessness, and had her husband throw nature into upheaval with the regicide, her conscience bubbles out. She sleepwalks and talks.

Macbeth was also part of Morton’s study towards her honours degree in theatre. She prefers to learn Shakespeare’s lines more than lines in regular plays, she said.

“The patterns of language are easier. It’s like a song, it’s easier to understand.

“You don’t have to learn cues as much as listen.”

Morton’s favourite play by Shakespeare is the rom-com Much Ado About Nothing.

“But Lady Macbeth is my all-time favourite character. She’s pretty exciting.

“She brings it.”

NO WOMAN in any of Shakespeare’s tragedies is as powerful as Lady Macbeth, said actor Beth Morton.

“With Macbeth, it’s kind of like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth," Morton said. In Unity Theatre’s upcoming production of the popular tragedy, Morton plays the manipulative wife of the doomed general.

Macbeth is often referred to by the superstitious as the Scottish Play because of its supernatural elements. Even Lady Macbeth seems to be touched by that darkness. She hears a hoarse raven where her husband’s friend Banquo sees a swallow.

The first we see of Lady Macbeth is as she reads her husband’s letter that tells of prophecies by three weird sisters.

Macbeth and Banquo encounter the weird sisters on their return from the battlefield. By the time Macbeth gets home, his wife has already invoked spirits to fill her with cruelty, thicken her blood and stifle any remorse about murdering a king.

In the Elizabethan mind, the king was an agent of God. Even the twisted Goth-queen Tamora in Shakespeare’s Tarantino-esque Titus Andronicus doesn’t kill a king.

“She has made the decision before he even gets home,” Morton said.

“He comes in from the war and he’s like ‘love me, my wife’, but she’s like, ‘we’ve got work to do’.”

They never show much love towards one another, Morton said.

Lady Macbeth is a dominant figure in acts one and two of the five-act play. Her focus is Macbeth. She can’t be queen without him. If he is in power, she gets more power.

“She says he is gutless. She says these horrible things like plucking a newborn baby from her breast and dashing its brains out. She kind of asks to be made a man. That’s when her power blossoms and grows.

“She has no compassion. The only thing she is scared of is being caught.”

By the third act, Macbeth is so overrun with the number of murders he needs to execute to stay safe he becomes oblivious to Lady Macbeth.

“He gets crazy so she tries to get him uncrazy. The only reason she cares he’s going crazy is because people notice.”

Although nothing is told of her past in the play, one line suggests Lady Macbeth once had a child. That loss could have been a tipping point for her, Morton said. Ambition has taken over her life.

“It’s a sad series of events. Macbeth becomes a serial killer to clear himself of the first murder.

“They sort of switch roles. She steps back. I think Macbeth’s murders lead to her insanity.”

Morton first encountered the woman who would be queen when she performed Lady Macbeth at school in the famous “Out damned spot!” scene. Having invoked spirits of mercilessness, and had her husband throw nature into upheaval with the regicide, her conscience bubbles out. She sleepwalks and talks.

Macbeth was also part of Morton’s study towards her honours degree in theatre. She prefers to learn Shakespeare’s lines more than lines in regular plays, she said.

“The patterns of language are easier. It’s like a song, it’s easier to understand.

“You don’t have to learn cues as much as listen.”

Morton’s favourite play by Shakespeare is the rom-com Much Ado About Nothing.

“But Lady Macbeth is my all-time favourite character. She’s pretty exciting.

“She brings it.”

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