Productions of "Macbeth" tend to emphasize the eponymous thane's brutality or the creeping malignancy of the supernatural forces that govern his fate. Everything tends to be a bit blood-soaked and shrieky; horror, horror, horror is the order of the day.
All this is in the nature of the play Shakespeare gave us. City Lit's current production taps into a vein of wry, black humor, which runs through the play and enriches its darker aspects. There is plenty of blood, but it's more sprinkled than soaked; there are shrieks, but their rarity makes them all the more startling.
In the title role, Steve Hadnagy provides a steady patter of detached self-commentary. His overleaping ambition is matched by his overwhelming sense of his own absurdity: some bearded ladies tell him he will be king (yay!), but he ends up killing everyone he respects and loves (boo!) The performance raises an often-overlooked question: how could a character so self-aware, so capable of deconstructing his own motives, fears, and ambitions, actually do what he does?
Rather than feeding into a general atmosphere of doom and gloom, each performance in the strong ensemble is carefully crafted; the resulting interpretation is lively and gripping from moment to moment. In her first scene, alone onstage, Lady M (Cameron Feagin) overdoes it a bit with choppy delivery and crazy eyes. But she shines in her interactions with her waffling husband. Banquo (John Arthur Lewis) deserves special mention for his easy smile and warm, expansive delivery; here is a thane we do not want to see killed.
All this is not to say the play isn't sufficiently terrifying. But the darkness (the murder of Macduff's family, the thoroughly freaky, seven-foot-tall witches) is offset by the light, and the production is richer for it.