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Publisher's Summary

Tony Award winner Alan Cumming in his riveting solo interpretation of Shakespeare's tragedy.

Star of stage, film, and television Alan Cumming delivers a virtuoso performance playing every role in the National Theatre of Scotland's bold presentation of Shakespeare's chilling tale of desire, ambition, and the supernatural.

This radical reimagining of one of Shakespeare's most deeply psychological plays is set in a psychiatric unit in which Cumming is the lone patient. Channeling the story of Macbeth, he is inhabited in turn by each of the characters of the drama, including some of Shakespeare's most complex and troubled creations.

Cumming's one-man interpretation of Shakespeare's Scottish play comes to audio directly from acclaimed limited stage engagements with the National Theatre of Scotland in Glasgow and at New York's Lincoln Center. Directed for audio by the stage production's renowned directors, this exclusive studio recording of Cumming's dazzling solo performance captures the excitement, passion, and poetry of a wildly original tour-de-force that is destined to become theatrical legend.

Public Domain (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

" Macbeth is a blast... ghoulish... beguiling... sardonic... an expression of how captivating an evening of crackling Shakespeare can be." (Peter Marks, The Washington Post)
"The explosive and overwhelming effect of a truck bomb... this horrific, riveting Macbeth ought to be seen by as many people as possible." (Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 08-18-12

Second best to seeing this performance

Oh, I was looking forward to this. I'm a great Shakespeare fan, and I had read a great deal about this unique solo performance. Thought I'd take a chance that something of the brilliance of this particular stage event would come through in the listening.

And, largely, it did! There just seems to be nothing that Alan Cumming cannot do! Of course, there's a bit of confusion here in not being able to watch his face and manner as he makes all the transformations, but, if you're pretty familiar with "Macbeth", it's worth the effort to imagine what it must have been like to see Cumming do it live. My greatest frustration in the listen was in fact this regret that I couldn't attend in person. Hope there will be a DVD, but I have no regrets in buying the Audible version of Cumming's "Macbeth".

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sand
  • Tampa, FL, United States
  • 10-22-13

Great Cram for Sleep No More

I was scheduled to see "Sleep No More" in NYC and felt like I needed a serious MacBeth refresh; so I downloaded this, along with Macbeth: A Novel, which is also narrated by Alan Cummings.
If you really want a Macbeth immersion, I highly recommend both...in tandem.
The play reading has, of course, all of the gorgeous Shakespearean language, but leaves the modern listener with a lot of questions. The novelization takes some liberties and cherry-picks the Shakespeare quotes, but definitely fleshes out the story so it makes a lot more sense to those of us not born in the Elizabethan era.

Either way, Alan Cumming owns the Macbeth narrative and for good reason. He is seriously one of the most talented actors--voice or otherwise--alive today.

Listening to both play and novel definitely plunged me (like a dagger) into the whole story, which allowed me to enjoy Sleep No More all the more...if you're a Macbeth fan you'll definitely want to check it out!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Chilling, Moving, Genius

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. Alan Cumming is a wonderful chameleon with a huge range which goes beyond even the fey, compelling characters that he often plays on film and stage. Here, he makes the play totally accessible. He does sincere justice to the title couple.

Would you ever listen to anything by William Shakespeare again?

Of course, but especially when it's done like this.

Have you listened to any of Alan Cumming’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've listened to Leviathan and Behemoth, enjoyed them, and admired Cumming's skill, but he's working on an even higher level here.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes. It definitely compels repeat listening because it is so good.

Any additional comments?

I have read, seen, and taught this play many times. I wasn't sure I needed this version. I did, and I would especially recommend it to anyone who is Shakespeare phobic, or who has to read the play for school. This actor clearly knows, loves, and understands the play. After listening to him, you will, too.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Halifax, NS, Canada
  • 09-18-13

I think you had to be there...

Yes, this is Alan Cumming performing Macbeth solo, doing all the characters in slightly different voices.

The inspiration for this recording is Cumming's one-man theatre show in which he performed the entire play by himself. However, that production had a concept: it was built around the idea of a man in an insane asylum,re-enacting Macbeth, and was full of striking visuakl imagery.

None of that is present in the recording, so all you're left with is Alan Cumming performing Macbeth by himself. And I'm sorry to say that even Cumming doesn't have twenty different voices in his repertoire. After a while the characters blur together and it all gets rather monotonous. And he doesn't bring anything unique or original to the play.

Mind you, the way Cumming rolls his r's and the excitable way in which he reads the stage directions are almost worth the credit.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lillian
  • Tustin, CA United States
  • 08-13-17

Alan Cumming is a treasure

Macbeth is the ultimate Shakespeare play and to hear it performed by a Scot whose acting skill is unparalleled has been a joy.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not exactly what I expected.

I love Alan Cummings but I felt this was more of a reading than a dramatic interpretation. It was enjoyable but not at all like listening to a performance. More like listening to a reading in a English class.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful