By Alexis Soloski
By Molly Grogan
By R. C. Baker
By Christian Viveros-Fauné
By Alexis Soloski
By Alexis Soloski
By Lilly Lampe
Cumming, Tiffany, and Goldberg will have an unusually generous rehearsal period to work out the characters and the setting. "I've got six weeks where I'm going to be in a rehearsal room with John and Andy and voice and movement people," Cumming says. "So I'm just trying to be clear and focused and open." As Cumming has recently recorded the audiobook for a novelization of Macbeth, he already has some ideas for the voices he'll use, though he cites passages such as the banquet scene as a particular challenge. "A lot of people are talking!"
Cumming will also have to find unique postures and gestures for each individual character. He hints at an unusual analogue for Lady Macbeth: Martha Stewart and the vigor with which she prepared a salad on live TV when the news of her insider-trading scandal broke. He says that in the heat of the banquet scene, as Lady Macbeth struggles to calm her husband and the lords, "I think of Martha."
There are other challenges, too, such as the alleged curse associated with the play. Theatrical legend has it that an unusual number of injuries and deaths have visited revivals of Macbeth, and elaborate rituals—many of which involve spinning counterclockwise and cursing—have been designed as countermeasures.
But with so many roles to verbalize and physicalize, Cumming prefers, like Macbeth himself, to tempt fate. "I'd be forever going outside and spinning around three times and swearing and spitting," he says. "I can't be dealing with that."
Rose Theater, Lincoln Center, July 5 through 14, lincolncenterfestival.org
'As You Like It'
Performances begin June 5
'Into the Woods'
Performances begin July 23
Is the Central Park ramble ready for its close-up? This summer, the surroundings of Shakespeare in the Park will play two different roles: the welcoming forest of Arden in As You Like It and the more sinister giant-laden thicket in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. Of course, theater is not accomplished with trees alone, so the flora will be joined by the likes of Lily Rabe as Rosalind and Stephen Spinella as Jacques in As You Like It, with original music by Steve Martin; and Amy Adams as the Baker's Wife and Donna Murphy as the Witch in Into the Woods, directed by Timothy Sheader. The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, publictheater.org
Performances begin June 6
Come and knock on their door/They've been waiting for you/Where the kisses are hers and hers and his and very likely intensely discomfiting and hyperreal. The new David Adjmi play, 3C, directed by Jackson Gay and co-produced by Rising Phoenix and Piece by Piece, concerns Brad, a distressed Vietnam vet who attempts a housing arrangement with the nubile Connie and Linda. Adjmi cites his inspirations as 1950s existentialist comedy, Chekhov, disco anthems, and a certain 1970s network comedy that obsessed him as a child. But if we know Adjmi, who likes to strip away social veneers to expose violent tragedy, expect that laugh track to turn troubling—and possibly bloody. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, 3CthePlay.com 'Uncle Vanya'
Performances begin June 7
Playwright Annie Baker and director Sam Gold are spending the summer in the country, but that isn't as soothing as it sounds. They'll be sojourning among the disappointed, the disaffected, the loveless, the hopeless, the unfulfilled and unhappy and unwise—the whole Chekhovian gang as Baker offers a new adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep. Working from a literal translation, Baker aims to "unearth the grammar and colloquialisms omitted in existing English versions." If their production, which stars Reed Birney, Maria Dizzia, and Michael Shannon, leaves you feeling insufficiently hapless, you can double dip with another Vanya later this summer, this one starring Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett, courtesy of the Lincoln Center Festival. Soho Rep, 46 Walker Street, sohorep.org
Performances begin June 8
Whether you're for or against our current wars, surely you want to support our troops. But would you really want to adopt one? That's the premise of Ethan Lipton's Luther, one of three plays in Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks season. Lipton, a playwright and troubadour, recently scored a hit with No Place To Go, a semiautobiographical song cycle about an office slob downsized when his company moves to Mars. He lends that same playful melancholy and slanted vision to this comedy, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, about a bourgeois couple who bring home a troubled vet. The Summerworks season continues with Peggy Stafford's Motel Cherry, co-produced with New Georges. Here Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue, here.org
Ice Factory Festival
Performances begin June 27
The Ice Factory moniker was always a massive misnomer for the annual summer festival at the old Ohio Theatre. Many of the shows were cool, sure, but the lack of air-conditioning made for a sweaty celebration. But newly ensconced on Christopher Street, with working HVAC, the festival might prove icier than ever. This year's six productions include Everywhere Theatre Group's Flying Snakes in 3-D, in which serpents attack young thespians; Godlight Theatre Company's Pilo Family Circus, which centers on sadistic clowns; and Bekah Brunstetter's Miss Lilly Gets Boned, which seems fairly self-explanatory. The New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street, newohiotheatre.org