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TO SEPTEMBER 21
Maybe it’s the can’t-miss plot—ambitious man seeks advancement, gets egged on by his bad-to-the-bone wife, makes it to the top, panics, ultimately loses everything, including, alack, his head. Or maybe it appeals on a Tales From the Crypt level. (How else to describe your butchered best friend coming back from the grave to crash a dinner party?) But for some reason, Shakespeare’s flower of evil, Macbeth, not only survives being transported into different languages and cultures, it sprouts brilliantly when taken out of Scottish soil. Think Orson Welles’ Voodoo Macbeth, produced in the ’20s and set in 19th-century Haiti. Or Akira Kurosawa’s 1957 Japanese film, Throne of Blood, which stars Isuzu Yamada as possibly the greatest Lady Macbeth ever. Or blowing the roof off Lisner Auditorium right now: playwright-director Welcome Msomi’s UMabatha: The Zulu Macbeth. Playing to raves every time it’s been revived since it premiered in South Africa in 1971, UMabatha is a swirling mix of dance and ritual, of Shakespeare’s play and the real-life exploits of the warrior-chieftain Shaka Zulu, whose story of ambition and cruelty followed a similar trajectory to Macbeth’s. Thabani Patrick Tshanini as Mabatha and Dieketseng Mnisi as his scheming bride lead a cast of 47 singers/dancers/actors. Face it, this is not your parents’ Shakespeare. Performances are in Zulu with English surtitles at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $25-37. (202) 833-9800. (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)