In honor of the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Macbeth starring Alan Cumming—opening tonight at 7:30pm—see how much you really know about the Scottish play.
Unravel the man from the myth with these 10 key facts about Macbeth.
Macbeth Myths - taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, selected by Simon Sharkey, director of The Elgin Macbeth and Associate Director - New Learning at the National Theatre of Scotland.
Macbeth Facts - provided by Dr Fiona Watson, historian and writer on a book about the real Macbeth entitled Macbeth: A True Story, published by Quercus in 2008.
Myth #1 Macbeth murdered Duncan in bed – “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more.”
Fact Macbeth did kill Duncan, but in a battle at Pitgaveny, near Elgin. This was the time-honoured way in which Kings came to the throne in this period, so it’s unlikely he lost much sleep over it.
Myth #2 Lady Macbeth was childless and is portrayed as a lady, not a queen.
Fact Lady Macbeth was a royal Princess in her own right, as well as Macbeth’s Queen (she’s actually the first named Queen in Scottish history!) She had already had a son by her first husband. That boy, Lulach, became king immediately after the death of Macbeth. However, it is true that she and Macbeth seem to have been childless, though that was presumably not her fault!