Alan Cumming is a man of many facets. He is an actor on stage and film, director, producer and writer. You may know him as the Emcee from “Cabaret” or more recently starring in the television show “The Good Wife”. One thing is for certain, Cumming is a superb actor who you should know. Right now he is performing “Macbeth” at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York for a limited engagement of 73 shows. In it, he embodies all the roles of the Shakespearean play, transforming himself like a chameleon. It is hard enough to draw an audience attention in for a monologue let alone a play clocking in just under two hours, yet he does this seemingly without effort. This show is a true work of art.
The play opens in a psychiatric unit. Cumming is being monitored by two individuals (a man and woman) who wear all white, poke at him and jot down notes for close to five minutes without a single word being spoken. The set is minimal: two beds, a bathtub, sink, tables, staircase, chairs, yet all of the pieces on the stage are used in some form at one point or another. The light green tiled walls and white room are the perfect setting to transport us into the space with him. There were three video surveillance monitors which were connected to three television screens. During specific lines Cumming would look toward them and act out his part. The camera would pick him up and it added a layer of intensity to the show. The lighting, sound, cameras, shadows, blood, echoes, small props and acting all blended so well together I could hardly get over it.
To explain all the characters that Cumming played would be nonsensical because you must see it to believe how truly talented he is. He played men, women and children. Sometimes he jumped back and forth between characters so quickly you wondered how in the world he could shift that speedily and carry us with him but he did. All were believable and creatively, witty characters. A few hints (spoiler alert) are in order for my friends who will not be able to attend the show: have you ever seen a one person sex scene? I don’t think so. Or a drowning on a stage in a bathtub with a camera on the actors face? No. How about someone playing multiple witches? Probably not. Cumming did all of this and more. It is no wonder he can only perform six shows a week instead of the typical eight. It is a taxing show to watch. I can only imagine how exhausted he must be after each performance.
My advice, if you possibly can, go see this play. You will not be disappointed. For more information contact the box office: http://www.macbethonbroadway.com/
*Special recognition goes to Ken Davenport whose company Davenport Theatrical Produced this show. Great choice!