‘Macbeth in Stride’ Curbs Curse of Macbeth… With a Concert

Macbeth in Stride. Image credit Teresa Wood.

There are plenty of catchy tunes in the — frankly undefinable — production of Macbeth in Stride now on stage at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Klein theater (kudos for the renovations and new seats!). But it’s a Taylor Swift pop culture tune that pretty much boils down this version of Lady Macbeth to perfection. As she croons in Antihero, “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.”

The Lady isn’t a problem exactly, but her drive, her needs, her desire to have it ALL and rule over it, too… all of these very real problems for women (and people) today.

There’s a reason so many versions of this play portray her as a witch and temptress (this one takes it quite literally), though in most tellings, she is undoubtedly the most powerful person in a play that offers her no real voice and no power. And in Whitney White’s Macbeth in Stride, she knows it.

Macbeth in Stride. Image credit Teresa Wood.

This new version of Macbeth shifts the focus away from the traditional tellings and places Lady Macbeth squarely in the role of antihero — albeit in a sort of rock opera that includes pop, R&B, gospel, and some Old English thrown in for some reason.

Yes, “The Scottish Play” as thespians prefer to call it, has been molded into a brand new work that attempts to curb any curse of the play… with a concert.

Lady Macbeth still goads her husband into murdering the King. And then, after Macbeth becomes a murderous tyrant, she is driven to madness and kills herself. But unlike the OG version, none of this happens offstage — or for reasons the audience must conjecture on their own.

Macbeth in Stride. Image credit Teresa Wood.

In Macbeth in Stride, Lady Macbeth is telling her own story, sharing her own feelings, and owning it. It’s empowering. And it’s a little confusing.

Shakespeare’s take suggested that ambition is a disastrous thing. But this version of Macbeth almost glorifies ambition. Almost condones violence. Almost strikes out at feminity. Almost.

Shakespeare fans in need of a fresh take will enjoy it for its bold retelling; for taking the two seconds (actually 17 lines) that Lady Macbeth is onstage in The Bard’s play and turning them into a triumphant (and tragic) role for the character. Theatre fans will love seeing a classic in an entirely new way. And new-age theatre fans will appreciate that this one is a cool 80 minutes (mostly) of music… with no intermission.

This production contains fog, haze, loud music, and bright flashing lights including strobe effects. Performances, produced in association with Philadelphia Theatre Company & Brooklyn Academy of Music, through October 29, 2023.