Updated Apr 22, 2013

Macbeth AudiobookBy William Shakespeare
Read by Alan Cumming
Simon & Schuster Audio
Available on SimonandSchuster.com, Audible.com

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” has been around for centuries, written by William Shakespeare in the early 1600s. The Scottish play has been one of the most popular, adapted many times over the years, including into Akira Kurosawa’s film “Throne of Blood.” The play was at the center of one of the worst theatre riots in America, the Astor Place Riot, which saw 25 people killed and more than 120 injured. The play is even thought to be cursed.

The audiobook probably isn’t, however. Performed by Alan Cumming, known for his role as Nightcrawler in “X2: X-Men United,” the two-CD, two-hour reading of the play comes off as theatre more than a simple book reading.

The story follows Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis and a victorious fighter, as he becomes entrapped by fate. After a battle against the treacherous Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth and his friend and fellow fighter Banquo are visited by three witches, who tell Macbeth he will be Thane of Cawdor and the future King of Scotland. When King Duncan grants him lordship over Cawdor, Macbeth, spurred on by his wife, seeks to seize his future for himself and kills the king. But, just as one lie often leads to more, that murder leads to more and more. Macbeth finds himself falling more and more in love with death, while the other lords of Scotland begin to think of revolting against his tyranny.

“Macbeth” has always been a personal favorite of mine. While I don’t always agree with Cumming’s acting choices, the audiobook is compelling, and done with Scottish accents. The play’s language is completely unaltered, so be prepared for the Shakespearean English of thees and thous. If you enjoy theater, however, and like the story of a man’s descent into bloodlust and power, this audiobook should be a nice way to spend a couple hours.