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The Third Annual Christmas Parody

Macbeth the Builder: a play in three acts

Posted on Dec 16 2011 by Martin Holladay

Act 1, scene 1. An empty lot near Scotland Drive.

Thunder and lightning. Enter three sisters, all RESNET-certified.

First rater:
When shall we three meet again,
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second rater:
When the drywall work is done,
When the zoning battle’s won.

Third rater:
The lawyers sure are having fun!

First rater:
What’s the sign?

Second rater:
A Christmas wreath.

Third rater:
We shall meet there with Macbeth.

First rater:
Where hast thou been, sister?

Second rater:
Smashing recessed cans.

First rater:
Look what I have.

Second rater:
Show me, show me.

First rater:
Here I have a thermostat,
With wi-fi, girls. This stat can chat.

Drum within

Third rater:
A drum, a drum! Macbeth doth come.

Enter Macbeth and Banquo

So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

Who are these workers,
So withered and so wild in their attire?

Speak, if you can: what are you?

First rater:
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, ranch home developer!

Second rater:
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. builder!

Third rater:
All hail, Macbeth! Thou shalt build a PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates.!

[To Macbeth]: Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?
[To the three sisters:] Strange women,
You greet my friend with several great predictions
Of rising skills and energy performance,
Foreseeing that he’ll build much tighter homes:
Point six air changes at 50 Pascals!
Could this be true? Forsooth, his homes are junk.
He seems befuddled now. Foretell some more:
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
Your favors nor your hate.

First rater:
Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

Second rater:
Not so happy, yet much happier.

Third rater:
Thou shalt swing a hammer, but get no credit or awards.

First rater:
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
For sure, I know that I can frame a ranch,
But Energy Star? I’d have to study up,
And I don’t think my house could ever pass.
And then, you say, I’ll build a Passivhaus!
To think my building skills would reach that far
Stands not within the prospect of belief.

Energy raters vanish

Whither are they vanished?

Into the air. Would they had stayed!

Were such things here as we do speak about?

You shall swing a hammer.

And you shall build a Passivhaus.

Enter Ross and Angus

I bring glad tidings from the EPA:
Sam Rashkin has decreed, Macbeth, today
A special honor that he just dreamed up.
You build a lot of houses, and we need
To get production builders on our team.
So Sam decided, sight unseen, to grant
A label for your latest model home:
“Energy Star,” it says. Just slap it on.

What, can the devil speak true?

Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?

Although the label is an honorary one,
Sam Rashkin hopes that you will be inspired
To get a Star for all your future homes.

An Energy Star label! Can Passivhaus be far behind?
[To Banquo] It sounds like you will swing a hammer soon,
Since Rashkin gave the label for my home.

So far, it’s just a label. But ’tis strange.

[Aside] Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the Passivhaus theme. This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. I have a label.
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion,
To use the product that gets stuck in hair,
And empties out my checkbook with one bill,
The two-component stuff? Seal up my house?
If Passivhaus is what I seek, then how?
The only way I know is with spray foam.
This thought — to use spray foam on every surface now —
Is sure to work, but scares me half to death.

Look, how our partner’s rapt.

[Aside] Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.


Scene 2. Macbeth’s house

Enter Lady Macbeth, reading a letter

Lady Macbeth:
“They met me with predictions — very strange —
and some of them came true. And when I tried
to question them further, they made themselves air,
into which they vanished. While I stood rapt
in the wonder of it, came missives from Rashkin, who
granted me a label, just the way the sisters predicted.”

Thou art an Energy Star builder, and shall be
What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full of the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.

Enter a Messenger

What are your tidings?

The zoning board meets tonight.

Lady Macbeth:
The zoning board! Tonight!
So close it is to Christmas, yet they meet?
We must complete the house on Scotland Drive!

The old fait accompli?

Lady Macbeth:
Indeed, ’twere best we finished up real fast.
For after three more meetings by the board,
Our goose could well be cooked. Call Mac!

Exit Messenger

We’re running out of time. Macbeth
Must build a Passivhaus, and build it soon.
I don’t care how! Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty!

Enter Macbeth

Great builder! O, my Labeled One!
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel now
The future in the instant.

Is't true? The zoning board meets tonight?

Lady Macbeth:
Yes. What shall we do?

Build twice as fast. The old fait accompli.

Lady Macbeth:
Seal up that house just like a Zip-Lock bag!
And don’t look back! Use any trick you can!
The Passivhaus prediction shall be ours.
Leave all the rest to me.


Scene 3. Macbeth’s house.

Enter Macbeth

If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly: if polyurethane
Can plug up all my errors, and deliver
A blower-door result of oh-point-six
Then calling in the closed-cell spray-foam truck
Might be the be-all and the end-all here.

Enter Lady Macbeth

How now! what news?

Lady Macbeth:
Joe, the spray foam guy, says he can come tonight.

Joe, that untrained guy who’s cheap?

Lady Macbeth:
They say he’s cheap, but good.

We will proceed no further in this business:
I’ve gotten to this point without spray foam,
Another method must be found to get
The Passivhaus certificate I seek.

Lady Macbeth:
The house on Scotland Drive is full of holes.
You know there is no way to seal it up
Without spray foam. Art thou afraid
To follow through with tools that match your dreams?
And will you live a coward in your own esteem?

If we should fail?

Lady Macbeth:
We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail. Step one: use lots of foam;
Step two: call up the drywall crew, and quick,
And cover up the foam so no one knows.
For green construction, I have heard it said,
The walls should all be filled with wool or hemp —
I think. Or not... I’m not quite sure just what
The greenie crowd expects.

I am settled. I will undertake
This dastardly and unexpected deed.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.


Act 2, scene 1. Macbeth’s house.

Is this a spray wand which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
And on thy handle I see gobs of foam,
Which was not so before. There’s no such thing:
It is the sticky business which informs
Thus to mine eyes.

A bell rings

I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
Hear it not, greenies; for it is a knell
That summons me to spray my building shell.


Scene 2. Macbeth’s house.

Enter Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth:
Alack, I am afraid that he backed out,
And ’tis not done. The attempt and not the deed
Confounds us.

Enter Macbeth

My husband!

I have done the deed.
[Looking at his foam-covered hands]
This is a sorry sight.

Lady Macbeth:
A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.

We sprayed the ceilings, walls, and everything.
There’s foam on all our clothes, and on our hands,
And on the floor, and also on the tub.

Lady Macbeth:
Consider it not so deeply.

I fear the tub is ruined.

Lady Macbeth:
These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.

Methought I heard a voice cry “Soak no more!
Macbeth has wrecked the tub.” A bubble bath,
Tub that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast…

Lady Macbeth:
What the hell are you talking about?

The voice cried “Soak no more!” to all the house:
“Macbeth has wrecked the tub. Macbeth will soak no more.”

Lady Macbeth:
Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy fool,
You do unbend your noble strength to think
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.

I am afraid to think what I have done.

Lady Macbeth:
Infirm of purpose!

Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash cured foam
Clean from my hand?

Lady Macbeth:
My hands are of your color; but I shame
To wear a heart so white.
A little water clears us of this deed:
How easy is it, then!


Scene 3. The house on Scotland Drive.

Enter Lennox and Macbeth

The night has been unruly: where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,
Lamentings heard in the air; strange screams of death.

’Twas a rough night.

Enter Macduff

O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!
The master bath has been destroyed
With gobs and gobs of overspray.

What is it you say? The tub?

Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
With a new horror: do not bid me speak;
See, and then speak yourselves.


Scene 4. Outside Macbeth’s house.

Enter Ross and an Old Man

Old Man:
Threescore and ten I can remember well:
Within the volume of which time I have seen
Hours dreadful and things strange; but this sore night
Hath trifled former knowings.
Here comes the good Macduff.

Enter Macduff

Is it known who did this more-than-messy deed?

’Twas Joe, the spray foam guy.
’Tis strange indeed he worked on Christmas Eve.

Today the blower-door contractor came,
And said the house tests out at oh-point-six.
It’s tight enough, it seems, for Passivhaus.

Some say that certification is assured.

Well, Macbeth, you’ve got your labels now:
Builder, Energy Star, and Passivhaus.
As the weird women promised, and, I fear,
Thou playedst most foully for it.

Adieu! Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!


Act 3, scene 1. A vacant lot.

Thunder. Enter the three energy raters.

First rater:
Thrice the mastic has been spread.

Second rater:
Thrice, and once the builder whined.

Third rater:
The GC cries, “ ’Tis time, ’tis time.”

All three sisters:
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Caulk shall seal, and spray foam bubble.

Enter Macbeth

How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
I conjure you, by that which you profess,
To answer certain questions.

First rater:

Second rater:

Third rater:
We’ll answer.

What dangers do I face in days to come?

First rater:
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware of lingering odors!

Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks;
But still I have more questions…


Second rater:
Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Global climate change shall cause to melt
All ice in Glacier National Park.

That will never be. The unproved tale
That CO2 will warm the planet up
Is nothing but a rumor and a myth.


Scene 2. An open field.

Enter Macduff and Malcolm

Bake, bake, poor country! The land is drying up,
And temperatures are rising all the time.

I think our country sinks beneath the smoke;
It sweats, it bakes; and every summer day
Brings record highs anew.

Where stands ours country now?

Alas, poor country!
Almost afraid to cure itself. It cannot
Be call'd our mother, but our grave; where everyone
Burns fossil fuel, all heedless of the times.
Where droughts and floods are plaguing east and west,
And every summer’s hotter than the last.


Scene 3. Macbeth’s house, at night.

Enter a Doctor and a Waiting-Gentlewoman

'Tis strange indeed that you still house-calls make.

Should we observe her now?

Enter Lady Macbeth, with a candle

Lo you, here she comes! This is her very guise;
and, upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her; stand close.

You see, her eyes are open.

Ay, but their sense is shut.

Look, how she rubs her hands.

Lady Macbeth:
Out, damned spot! Out, I say!
Will nothing clean cured foam from tender skin?

Do you mark that?

Lady Macbeth:
What, will these hands ne’er be clean?
Here’s the smell of foam still:
All the perfumes of Arabia
Will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!

This disease is beyond my practice.

Lady Macbeth:
Wash your hands; look not so pale.
I tell you yet again, the Passivhaus certificate is ours.

Even so?

Lady Macbeth:
To bed, to bed! What’s done cannot be undone.
To bed, to bed, to bed!


More needs she the divine than the physician.
God, God forgive us all!

Good night, good doctor.


Scene 4. Outdoors.

Enter Macbeth

Till all the ice in Glacier National Park
Melts into water, I will have no fear.

Enter a nervous servant

The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
Where got'st thou that goose look?

There is a smell…


A smell, sir. Very much like rotten fish.

Thou lily-livered boy! What smell, you fool?

The spray foam in the house. It stinks.

Begone! Take thy face hence!

Exit Servant

I have lived long enough: my way of life
Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
The Ranch Home Builder of the Year Award,
I must not look to have; but, in its stead,
On both my hands, cured foam that can’t be cleaned,
And ling’ring odors, just like rotten fish.
But still I have no fear of death or dark,
As long as ice remains in Glacier Park.


Scene 5. Macbeth’s house.

Enter Macbeth and Seyton. A cry of women within.

What is that noise?

It is the cry of women, I’m afraid.
My lord, the Passivhaus Institut
Has rescinded certification on your house.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps at this petty pace from day to day
Until the last punch list is all complete.
And all my building permits and my plans
Have barely brought me profit after all.
The backhoes are all quiet now, and I
Am but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Enter a Messenger

Gracious my lord,
I should report that which I say I saw,
But know not how to do it.

Well, say, sir.

As I was watching CNN today,
I heard reports about the heat out West.
Montana’s weather has been hot for months,
And now the ice in Glacier Park is gone.

Liar and slave!

Let me endure your wrath, if it be not so:
The ice is gone, the glaciers are no more.

Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack!
We’ll die with fall-protection harness on our back.


Scene 6. Outdoors.

Enter Macbeth

Why should I play the Roman fool, and die
On mine own sword?

Enter Macduff

Of all men else I have avoided thee:
You’re on the zoning board — is that not right?

This letter’s from the board: you house has been condemned.


“Fait accompli” won’t fly here anymore.
Your setback violations shall not stand.
The demolition crew will come at noon.

They won’t! I will not yield!

You will, Macbeth. The lawyers say you’re doomed.
Macbeth will build no more. Let others learn
From your absurd mistakes: build green, my friends,
But not in sloppy haste. ’Twas speed and greed
That brought to disrepute, at end of life,
A foolish builder and his wicked wife.


2010 Christmas parody: Christmas Carols from the Energy Nerd

2009 Christmas parody: ’Twas the Night Before Christmas

Tags: , , ,

Dec 16, 2011 11:59 AM ET

Iambic pentameter, even.
by Mojave Disaster, 3B

Iambic pentameter, even. Impressive! And a little disturbing.

Dec 16, 2011 2:07 PM ET

Well done.
by Gavin Farrell

This is possibly one of the greatest things I've ever read. Thanks for the laughs!

Dec 17, 2011 10:58 AM ET

by Dan Kolbert

Glad the PV was working enough for you to upload this.

Dec 18, 2011 9:45 AM ET

Stage production pending? Broadway beckons.
by James Morgan

I've waited to read this gem until the quiet of a Sunday morning when I could truly savor and enjoy it. Bravo Martin! Truly thou art a great wit and a poet indeed!

Dec 18, 2011 7:31 PM ET

by Michael Chandler

"Double, double, toil and trouble;
Caulk shall seal, and spray foam bubble"

Big smile here! A master work indeed!

Dec 22, 2011 4:27 PM ET

by Michael Anschel

This may be your finest work to date! Absolutely loved it.

Dec 22, 2011 6:01 PM ET

Merry Christmas, all!
by Martin Holladay

Thanks for the feedback -- glad you enjoyed it. A happy holiday season to all.

Dec 23, 2011 8:51 PM ET

Holy Cow!
by Douglas Horgan

That was truly amazing! Happy holidays Martin!

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