NEW YORK -- Just in time for the Tony Awards deadline, Alan Cumming is reprising his mental-case "Macbeth" on Broadway.
Imprisoned in a grim green institution where he's observed and sometimes medicated by a pair of observers, Mr. Cumming plays all the roles in Shakespeare's blood-drenched portrait of power lust and a pushy queen.
The Scottish actor, now best known as the cunning political operative Eli Gold on TV's "The Good Wife," brings an authentic burr to the role along with several terabytes of memory.
The production, which opened last summer's Lincoln Center Festival (where it wasn't eligible for Tony Award nominations), struck me as even more gimmicky on second viewing. It reveals more about the actor than the would-be king.
A prologue opens the hour-and-forty-five-minute show with Mr. Cumming silently trading his clothes for a hospital gown. Three TV monitors overhead buzz with noise and spy cams follow his movements. There are few histrionics and a suspenseful soundscape composed by Max Richter.
The actor's visage is projected onto the three screens to differentiate the weird sisters, but with one exception, the histrionics are kept to a minimum. Banquo is represented by an apple in the actor's hand; his doomed children by a doll.
The scene in which Lady Macbeth tells her hesitant husband to man up and grab the fate predicted for him is played as a bedroom seduction, showing Mr. Cumming's sexy, slinky versatility.
The only flagrant misstep in the show, staged by John Tiffany ("Once") and Andrew Goldberg, is the portrayal of King Malcolm as a dowager queen.
Were I seeing this production in a storefront theater at the Edinburgh Fringe, it would seem youthful and audacious. But Mr. Cumming is a grown-up with the puppyish style of a juvenile. He has neither the compelling personal vision nor the gravitas to justify this one-man-Bard.
The play continues through June 30 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St. Information: 1-212-239-6200; www.telecharge.com.