Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Rather than a straightforward play, Macbeth in Stride plays out as a rock concert on Daniel Soule's spartan set, backed by lighting designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew's vivid use of color on a shimmering rear curtain and around the stage. At the keyboard, music director Steven Cuevas conducts a tight onstage combo of a drummer and guitar and bass players.
White has scored the performance with overlapping musical styles, primarily the many ages of rock performance. (An exhibit in the Klein lobby references this by covering the walls with promotional materials from several decades' worth of solo performers and bands.) She demonstrates genius in the way she uses her own expressive words as a counterpoint to lines from Shakespeare's play.
Directors Tyler Dobrowsky and Taibi Magar keep the five cast members in constant motion, beginning with the Shakespearean incantation by the three witches (Stacey Sargeant, Ximone Rose, Chelsea Lee Williams). Then they shed their voluminous black robes to reveal the purple and black outfits of background singers, fronted by White (identified in the program as "Woman") in a form-fitting, black, sequined shirt and pants and a leather corset. The fifth cast member ("Man," or the Thane who would be king) is muscular, tattooed Charlie Thurston.
In addition to a gripping experience, Macbeth in Stride also opens a dialogue with Shakespeare's play. Questions and concerns about women with ambition, who know what they want without shame, predate Macbeth and linger today; White is taking a necessary step by extending the conversation.
Macbeth in Stride runs through October 29, 2023, at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Klein Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 202-547-1122 or 877-487-8849 or visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.
Created and performed by Whitney White