The Scottish Play

I'm writing this on the evening of April Fools' Day, the time of pranks, jokes, and hoaxes. It was first apparently mentioned in 1392 in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales ("The Nun's Priest's Tale" to be exact.) It is a day that has reached near superstitious levels of participation by those who welcome its anti-establishment nature and of panic by those who do their best to avoid becoming the foil of tricks and lies. As I pondered what to write tonight, I looked at my evergreen list and saw my note "Alan Cumming will play Macbeth in a one-man show on Broadway." Although the news item is 100% true and doesn't have anything to do with the faux holiday, it still felt like a natural fit on this madcap yet ominous date on the calendar.

It is fitting that a Scottish actor should take a stab (pun intended) at performing "the Scottish Play" as it has come to be known by those in the theater community who fear that even saying the name aloud might bring forth bad luck. It has earned its dark reputation, no doubt, due to its bloody subject matter and supernatural occult plot points.  Accidents surely abounded with all the special effects and violent sword play involved.  Self-fulfilling prophesies likely added to the mayhem.

Although Alan Cumming will present his version as a one-man show, that's a bit misleading, since there will also be a "supporting cast" -- a doctor, a nurse -- who deal with him thoughout the play as he recites William Shakespeare's brilliant lines for almost all the characters in the tragedy. Did I mention that Cumming's rendition will be as a patient in a psychiatric unit?  Shades of my portrayal of Puck in a straightjacket! (Did you know that the only way to avert the misfortune of uttering Macbeth is to quote a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream? The circle is now complete.)

I'm intrigued to see this tour de force, but I'm already seeing two other Broadway shows this month (Pippin and Jekyll and Hyde) so my budget and time are limited. If anyone reading this does have the chance to see it, please let me know what you think. I will reserve a slot on my blog for your guest post review (or a compilation of mini-reviews)!

Macbeth, starring Alan Cumming, begins previews on April 7 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater and opens on April 21, 2013.  "All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death."

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