PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Macbeth: Cumming and Going

By Harry Haun
22 Apr 2013

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Alan Cumming
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

"I think it's absolutely fascinating," she didn't hesitate a second to say of the Macbeth matter. "I'm a psychiatrist, psychoanalytically trained—and that's what I think. When he first came in, we didn't know exactly what to make of him so that's why I'm observing—and then gradually, we begin to realize he's actually a serial killer.

"My mind changes at this point. The line that I have—'The patient must minister to himself.' The reason for this is that in that time—in Shakespeare's time—madness was only thought curable by the patient. There was no cure for it, and there was no medical help of any sort. I guess, in some ways, it hasn't really changed that much."

Sterlin and her massive medical aide, Brendan Titley, joined the production just when it became Broadway bound, so the couple originating the roles could return to their native Scotland. "I did Design for Living with Alan," she explained. "That's how I know him. I also did Heartbreak House, Major Barbara, things like that."



Titley, a Milwaukee native and New York actor for five years, eased into the role: "We had a very knowledgeable psychologist from NYU, Mr. Mike Eigen our second day of rehearsal. He wrote a book called 'The Psychotic Core,' which I've read excerpts of so it got me in the mindset of it, but I didn't go to a psychiatric ward and touch real psychiatric patients. I just used my imagination and watched movies."

Co-director Goldberg is kinda the D.M. Marshman Jr. of this production. D.M. Marshman Jr. was a poker crony of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett's at the time they were starting to write "Sunset Boulevard." One night, Marshman sorta offhandedly suggested that the manipulative screenwriter be a gigolo with no qualms about sleeping with an older woman to affect this objective. That notion transformed their story and solidified it and gave them the inspiration that they needed to win the 1950's Original Screenplay Oscar, a third of which they gave Marshman.

Goldberg's eureka Marshman Moment? "A few years ago," he recalled, "Alan was interested in playing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, maybe in alternate performances, and John was staying with me at the time, and I mentioned an idea I had about a one-man version set in a psychiatric ward. Then, through discussions, it became a meeting of three minds. John, Alan and I concocted this crazy version of the show."

He got caught up in the craziness and has stayed on the horse almost a full year, making sure their three-way vision reaches its destination intact. Essentially, the show seems exactly as it did when initially introduced in New York a year ago.

 Continued...