Who Wants to See Macbeth with Me? January 8, 2009

Who Wants to See Macbeth with Me?

Believe it or not, in all my years of living in Chicago, I’ve never visited the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST). From what I hear, it’s amazing.

They just began running a new production of Macbeth last week. Normally, that wouldn’t intrigue me… but now, I *really* want to see the show.


Because Laurie Higgins of the (Christian Right) Illinois Family Institute saw the show and can’t stop talking about it:

  • In the early scene just after Lady Macbeth has read the letter from Macbeth, Lady Macbeth removes her top and performs topless. When Macbeth arrives home, she mounts him and they simulate sex whilst the actor playing Macbeth fondles the actress’ bare breasts.
  • After Macbeth becomes undone by the vision of Banquo’s bloody head, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth retreat to their bedchambers where she performs oral sex on him.
  • The three scenes in which the three witches meet Hecate; Lenox and another Lord discuss the state of Denmark; and the witches make their last prophecies are set in a strip club. There is no nudity, but one of the witches wears a top which conceals little, and fishnet stockings and a leather thong over her posterior that she gyrates like a professional stripper.

I don’t remember reading that version of the play in high school…

Anyway, the first bulletpoint says there’s simulated sex in the show. A topless scene. Not the end of the world. You see much more in R-rated movies.

I’d be surprised if anyone actually performed oral sex in the show… that’s probably suggestive. As is the risqué dancing, which doesn’t seem all that different from what I’ve seen multiple times in Rent.

Maybe Higgins should’ve checked out the show’s website first.

It includes this warning:


The CST also makes appropriate changes for student matinee shows.

In any case, the theater should really thank Higgins. Her posting will bring in more customers than a favorable review ever could 🙂

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  • Zar

    Sex? In Shakespeare? Say it ain’t so!

    (You know, ignoring the non-stop stream of filthy jokes that is Mercutio’s dialog in Romeo and Juliet, and the entirety of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet’s many references to Ophelia as a prostitute, and Romeo banging Juliet, and the opening “maidenhead/my naked weapon is out” bit in that same play, and the gender-bending in Twelfth Night, etc.)

  • Richard Wade

    This reminds me of something I read in Mad Magazine many decades ago. Let’s see if I can remember it:
    (To the tune of “On Wisconsin”)

    On you actors, on you actors
    Peel it to the bare!
    Plays like MacBeth are much better
    When they’re done like “Hair.”
    Take your socks off, bras and tops off
    Strip and show your stuff.
    We won’t rest ’till you’ve done Hamlet
    In the buff!

  • Shane

    Ooooh! Nekkid peoples are ickies!!! Sex is bad!

    Grow up.

  • Miko

    This kind of thing is actually fairly common in productions of the Scottish Play (what? no, of course I’m not superstitious). Directors have this idea that Mr. and Mrs. Mackers are so inhuman that the audience needs to see a softer side of them, which for some reason typically is director-code for nudity. However, judging solely from the (probably biased) bullet-points above, they seem to be taking it in more of a violence-fetishism angle, which I’ve never really seen done before.

  • Tao Jones

    Actors absolutely love it (YouTube) when you call it “MacBeth.” I do so at every opportunity.

  • I can see it already: Higgins and a friend standing outside the theatre with two big placards:

    “Down with that sort of thing”


    “Careful now”.

    Father Ted would approve.

  • I went to the Chicago Shakespeare theater twice in high school. We saw Romeo and Juliet and the Merry Wives of Windsor. Both were excellent and delightfully raunchy (though no nudity…probably wouldn’t have been able to go if there was). I enjoy their performances much more than just reading Shakespeare or even watching various movies that have been made, so I strongly recommend going.

    I would seriously go if you went on a weekend. I was actually trying to convince my boyfriend to go see it on the 6th, but he said he didn’t like Shakespeare enough… Maybe if he would have read this review first, he would have wanted to go! But seriously… I’d be up for an atheist get together in Chicago to see raunchy Shakespeare. What could be better than that?

  • It sounds a bit like the Roman Polanski version, actually. Which, for some inexplicable reason, our high school English teacher took us to see.

    Ah, the ’70s. It was a simpler time…

  • Gribblethemunchkin

    Interesting that she doesn’t object at all to the murderous and continuous violence in Macbeth. Some of the dialogue is truly barbaric, “Grease thats sweaten from the murderers gibbet” literally means the liquified fat from a hanged corpse that has trickled through rents in the skin caused by rot. Grim!

    Also i’m surprised given that she seems a bit of a looney that the whole witchcraft angle doesn’t bother her.

    Personally Macbeth is my favourite of Shakespeares plays, and this seems like an interesting take on it. I always like seeing shakespeare done well in a contemporary setting, new looks at old plays, etc.

  • Fantastic, I’d love to see MacBeth in a modern metropolitan setting. Witches being strippers is an interesting twist on the idea of witches cavorting naked in their witchy rites while they do witchy stuff involving suckling devils and rudeness.

    As an aside I once saw the story of Genesis as a stage show. The three actors played multiple roles but were all naked for the first half of the show. It was very well done.

  • mikespeir

    Sorry. Nudity or no, I had about all the MacBeth I could stomach in school.

  • Vincent

    I used to substitute teach.
    I once had a highschool english class that was watching the 70s film of romeo and juliet.
    I had explicit directions to skip the nude scene.

  • Robin

    Oddly enough, when the Significant Other and I visit Chicago, we often see productions at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Especially musicals. (They don’t ONLY perform The Bard there. They also do Sondheim and stuff, too.)

    We’ll be there in March, but after the Scottish Play has closed.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    The Scottish Play? Are you…superstitious?

    But seriously, it certainly isn’t the most family friendly work anyway. It always baffles me how people can get so offended by the depiction of sex and nudity in films or plays, while the violence doesn’t seem to offend as much or at all.

  • Ahem, Macbeth, lower-case b.

    I can see the scene of Lady Macbeth reading the letter and getting all hot and bothered by it, but I find the strip-club thing a little odd. Meh, I’d still see it if I were in the area.

  • Mathew Wilder

    Nudit AND high culture!? I would so be there if I didn’t live in MN (and loathe I’ll for it’s damn toll roads!) Even if I hated Shakespeare, I’d still go see it just to piss the prudes off.

  • mikespeir

    Ahem, Macbeth, lower-case b.

    I’m so ashamed.

  • I’m ashamed too! It’s fixed. It shall never happen again. Thanks for pointing it out, Milena

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