For those of us not lucky enough to catch Alan Cumming’s one man performance of Macbeth at Lincoln Center in New York City, we have good news! Simon & Schuster Audio has just released an exclusive studio recording of Macbeth that captures Cumming’s excitement and passion.
We’re guessing most people are familiar with Shakespeare’s Macbeth (or at least the Coles Notes version: ambitious power couple get stabby to get ahead, witches pop by, “out, out damn spot.” Moral: not only does crime not pay, it can also make you nuts). Cumming’s adaptation isn’t the most avant-garde take on Macbeth to hit NYC lately – that title would go to Punchdrunk’s interactive Macbeth installation last year – but it is definitely a fresh, original view to the tale of desire, ambition and the supernatural, framing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as two of many multiple personalities of a single mental patient.
The story is set in a psychiatric unit where the lone patient relives the story of Macbeth, inhabiting each complex and troubled character. Cumming performs the roles of all the main characters, including Mr. and Mrs. McB, Macduff, King Duncan, Banquo and the three witches, all of whom belong to one shattered person.
Tony Award winning actor Alan Cumming is one of our favorite narrators and in this recording of his stage performance, he demonstrates full command as he subtly shifts from character to character. You’ll be hard-pressed not to cling to his every word.
However, if you happen to be encountering Macbeth for the first time, this interpretation may be baffling. Despite Cumming’s versatile performance, having some prior exposure to the drama is almost essential to keep track of the various characters and follow the action. But for listeners looking for something original and fresh, this version of Macbeth is a perfect choice.