"Is this a dagger which I see before me?" Zoom editionMia da Costa with permission for varsity

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is an age-old tragedy renowned for its tumultuous portrayal of that serpent which lurks deceptively under even the most “innocent flower”: ambition. Director Mia da Costa certainly set herself an ambitious task when rewriting this dark classic for the virtual stage of Zoom. Nevertheless, when sitting in on rehearsals, it seemed to me that this modern reimagining promises to remind its audience of the enduring resonance of Shakespeare’s works, while demonstrating the universality of theatre itself.

“Promises to remind its audience of the enduring resonance of Shakespeare”

Broadcast live for one night only, Macbeth (Online!) offers a contemporary twist on the original, transporting the cut-throat politics and espionage of the medieval hills of Dunsinane to the corporate world of today. Debates surrounding the modernisation of Shakespeare’s plays continue to circulate critical spheres, with questions surrounding language, gender, sexuality and race at their heart. Regardless, da Costa’s vision remains true to the underlying themes that arguably underpin one of Shakespeare’s most infamous tragedies.

Yet with the three witches left to “toil and trouble” in separate squares on their computer screens, we are undoubtedly forced to recognise both the technical and performative limitations of this online formatting. It seems choreographing some of the more complex interpersonal scenes proved a challenge, with cast members (impressively) collating their own props and theatrical methods of murder. As I am cut out of the call multiple times, I also cannot help but think back to Covid times of stilted conversations and painfully out of sync Zoom screens. I can only hope that the crew are blessed with sturdy Wi-fi on the night!

“It’s clear how significant this format could be in bringing people together”

While perhaps it may not be the most fluid of viewings, there is something to be said for the potential of this format to reach wider audiences and prospective thespians. The Cambridge theatre scene should be celebrated for its diversity and openness. Yet its physical spaces are often less than accessible; Corpus Playroom, for example, is completely wheelchair-unfriendly, assistant director Emily Sparkes tells me. Watching from behind the computer screen ultimately opens the theatre doors to those who may otherwise be unable to enjoy all the stage has to offer.

Seeing the cast perform from all corners of the globe, hearing them recount rehearsals attended while at Niagara Falls or running between trains, it’s also clear how significant this format could be in bringing people together in the name of theatre. Sparkes explains how “invaluable” the whole process has been in not only allowing the actors to observe and reflect on their own performances, but in facilitating collaboration between passionate people despite distances.


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Tickets to watch the show are free, and those unavailable to attend on the night can watch the recorded version, released after. Instead, the cast asks that any funds be directed towards the charity which the production hopes to support, Crisis UK, at the forefront of the homelessness epidemic. Mia expressed how the charity fights the realities of corporate ambition in society today, and shared that they have in fact reached out to her and expressed their support for the show and its concept.

To take a peek behind the digital curtain, have a scroll through the production’s Instagram page macbeth_online to find out more and book a ticket for this Saturday evening. It hopes to be an innovative journey into the mystique of Shakespeare’s Scotland set within the confounding constraints of the technological age.

Macbeth (Online!) is showing on Zoom on Saturday 9th of September at 7:30pm. Register interest here.