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The first girl is chestnut-haired, her violet eyes well disguised by heavy black eyeliner and her mouth raggedly outlined in scarlet lipstick. Her clothes are thin and ragged, and seem to slide away from her skin as though repelled by it.

The second girls’s face is stark, almost glowing white, a heart-stopping contrast with her eyes and with the hair, black as the bottom of the sea, which hangs close over her face. She wears black, clinging to her body, up to her neck and down to her ankles, but her arms are bare, thin and white.

The third girl is slim and tall. She doesn’t slouch or skulk, but strides lightly, a small smile lighting her face. Her hair is burnished copper, her eyes dazzling blue, and she wears a dress that matches them.

There is a faint roll of thunder when they enter through the audience, and many people turn in their seats to watch them, lit by a brash white spotlight. When they have nearly reached the stage, they stop and turn to one another.

“When shall we three meet again?” says the first girl slowly. Her voice can be heard all through the theatre. “In thunder, lightning, or in rain?”

“When the hurly-burly’s done. When the battle’s lost and won.” The second girl’s voice is harsh by contrast.

“That will be ere the set of sun,” says the third girl. She looks straight up into the spotlight as it softens, making her face glow.

“Where the place?” says the first. She looks down and chews her fingernail.

“Upon the heath.” The second sways slightly on the spot.

“There to meet with Macbeth,” says the third girl. She starts to smile, very slowly, until it fills her whole face.

“I come, Grey-Malkin,” says the first girl. She shuffles away from her sisters.

“Padock calls!” The second stalks off the other side.

“Anon!” cries the third girl, and the other two stop and turn.

“Fair is foul and foul is fair,” they say in unison. Their different voices make an odd chord. “Hover through the fog and filthy air.”

Smoke gushes across the front of the auditorium. Just visible is the third girl, her arms outstretched, whirling and leaping through it until she disappears.

You can hear them all behind the curtain, even through the prologue. There are muffled bangs and heavy scrapes. Occasionally voices rise in a wave, then die again as their owners remember who is waiting on the other side. But at last the noises die away. There’s silence for quite some time, until the violins, sounding thin and eerie, signal the start of the play.







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