A Madman's Macbeth

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alan Cumming in the Lincoln Center Festival's 'Macbeth.' Alan Cumming in the Lincoln Center Festival's Macbeth. (Stephanie Berger)

There are more than 20 roles in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. But a recent new production of the play at the Lincoln Center Festival featured only a single performer speaking all the lines, telling the entire story.

The challenge of this one-man version of the Scottish play was undertaken by, appropriately enough, a Scottish actor: Alan Cumming, currently on television’s "The Good Wife," and a Tony winner for his 1998 portrayal of the Emcee in Cabaret.

To offer the audience a reason for one person to be performing Macbeth, the production – co-directed by John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg – placed all the play’s action inside that one person’s head, and that person in an insane asylum. A crazy idea or not? New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood shares the thoughts in his head on this unusual version of Macbeth.

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