Alan Cumming, John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg production of Macbeth (4 stars)

Stunning performance by Alan Cumming as Shakespeare's tyrant king

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Macbeth

Alan Cumming’s celebrity status and many sidelines, including as a novelist and campaigner, sometimes threaten to eclipse the fact that he’s an incredibly versatile actor. There aren’t many other stars with the courage, energy and charisma to pull off this (nearly) one-man version of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. But Cumming manages it, with a mesmerising performance that at times makes you forget he’s the only person on stage.

John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg’s production employs simple motifs (an apple, a doll, water, a towel), as well as screens suspended above the stage showing scratchy footage of Cumming shot from different angles, to differentiate between characters. While not all of the shifts work, with a lack of clarity applied to some peripheral characters and scenes, the setting – a vast tiled space that recalls a crumbling 19th century madhouse – makes a chilling backdrop to the actor’s shape-shifting as well as the bard’s meditations on the nature of psychosis. Cumming is stunning, by turns commanding, fragile, grotesque, and in the role of the tyrant king, finding a disarming balance of vulnerability and menace.

Tramway, Glasgow, until Sat 30 Jun

Macbeth

Alan Cumming stars in a hotly anticipated new one-man adaptation of Macbeth from the National Theatre of Scotland.

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