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  • Inventive ‘Macbeth’ Provides New Perspectives on Shakespeare’s Tragedy

    There’s plenty of sound and fury in Alan Cumming’s near-solo adaptation of “Macbeth,” but it signifies a great deal more than nothing. This startlingly fresh approach to one of the Bard’s most produced works offers not only a sensational vehicle for the actor but also gives us new perspectives on a familiar classic.
    Set in a bleak isolation ward of a mental facility—given an appropriately drab and depressing tone by scenic designer Merle Hensel—the bold staging casts Cumming as a patient acting out Shakespeare’s tale under the watchful eyes of several surveillance cameras and two attendants (Jenny Sterlin and Brendan Titley, in subtle turns), who occasionally take on minor parts in the drama. It would have been challenging enough for the star to enact all the major roles, which he does with dexterity, delivering a savagely conflicted Macbeth; a serpentlike, seductive Lady M.; a foppish Duncan straight out of a Noël Coward drawing-room comedy; a heroic MacDuff; and a brash, macho Banquo, among others. But in addition to this versatile display, Cumming also supplies a gripping subtext for the nameless patient.
    We never find out where he got those bloody scratches on his chest

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