“Stop raping the matriarchy!” Madonna, clad in a sequin-encrusted Revolutionary war costume, shouted to the sold-out crowd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House on Thursday night. Like the Madame X character she crafted for her 14th album, the Madonna who has opted for a theater residency after 37 years of touring stadiums and arenas is playing with multiple dualities. And like the alter-egos at the center of the album that dominates the concert, the show itself has a range of identities: at times it’s performance art, a political rally, a comedy show, a church and even her home in Lisbon, which inspired the record. And Madonna is everything from a political activist and a spy to a comedian and a “cha-cha” dancer on the stage. So why not mix sequins with a getup Thomas Jefferson might have sported while trying to protect women’s rights?
As she never really lets you forget, Madonna is calling the shots with “Madame X,” this show and plenty else besides. And for her, that means attempting to use her privilege and power to enact change while still owning her artistry, even if it is inexplicable at times.