Cahoot's Macbeth

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 749

Cahoot's Macbeth takes place in a living room across town, although when the play starts, there is such little light on the stage that the audience does not know this. Unlike the previous play, this play starts out in English, with several actors acting out an abbreviated performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth. As in the earlier play, the lines are borrowed directly from Shakespeare's play. At a certain point in the play, a police siren is heard in the background, followed by a knocking noise at the door. These disturbances are incorporated into the dialogue of the play. The hostess goes offstage and lets a police inspector in to what is now an empty living room. He is surprised to find that the hostess is hosting a play in the living room of her home and references the audience—the audience who is watching Stoppard's play. Landovsky, the actor playing Macbeth, comes back into the room. The actors and the inspector talk about how public acting has been censored, and the inspector takes a seat in the audience, intending to watch the rest of the Macbeth production. The actors are wary, however, because they do not want to be arrested by the inspector for breaking censorship laws, which forbid acting.

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The inspector tells them that they had better continue their acting for his pleasure and that if he does not like it, he is going to arrest them. The nervous actors reluctantly finish acting out the interrupted scene from their abbreviated version of Macbeth, and the inspector is not impressed, saying that the police do not like Shakespeare. The inspector says that the police would rather have people say that there is no freedom outright, instead of acting it out in cryptic plays. One of the actors, Cahoot, a banned writer, suddenly falls to his hands and knees and acts like a dog. The inspector asks him to make a statement, and Cahoot speaks in Shakespearean language. The inspector tells him that he cannot get around the law by quoting verse at him, then lists the various freedom-fighting organizations he has persecuted. Cahoot growls, which Macbeth says is due to the fact that he has been made a nonperson.

The inspector leaves, telling everybody else to go as well. However, the actors resume their play as soon as he is gone. After the play has progressed somewhat, Easy, the lorry-driver from the first play, arrives on stage, speaking Dogg. The actors continue to speak their lines from Macbeth, while Easy appears at various places on and around the stage, trying to get their attention. Macbeth starts to incorporate these appearances into the play, as if Easy were a ghostly apparition. Finally, the hostess stops the production so they can talk to Easy. In Dogg, he tries to tell them that he has a load of materials for them. He opens the shutters and shows them his truck, and they start to understand him. The actors resume their acting.

Once again, the inspector arrives. Easy tries to talk to him in Dogg, and the hostess explains that Easy does not understand English. Cahoot enters and starts to speak to Easy in Dogg. Cahoot tells the others that Easy only speaks Dogg, a language that is caught, not learned. Easy starts speaking Dogg to the other actors, who are picking up on the language. The hostess tells the inspector to leave the stage so they can perform the final act of Macbeth, and the inspector warns her that the place is bugged and that the recording will be used against the actors at their trial. The actors resume acting Macbeth, although now they say all of their lines in Dogg. The phone rings, and the inspector answers it. His partner outside says that they cannot understand the words on the recording. The inspector is flustered and gets more so as the actors continue acting in Dogg, while Easy and some of the actors build steps on the stage, talking in Dogg as they work. The inspector finally blows up and calls in other policemen, who use the building materials to start walling up the stage—hiding the actors from the audience. The phone rings, and Easy answers it. As he talks into the mouthpiece to somebody, his language slowly changes from Dogg back into English. His last line is completely in English, and he says that it has been a funny week but that he expects he will be back by Tuesday.

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