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“Obviously, I think when you do anything like this, you worry that you’re going to tip into bad, crazy acting and mumbling and talking to yourself in straitjackets,” he says. “We’ve tried to avoid that.”

Goldberg says watching a modern man suffer what Macbeth goes through is a way to make the savagery in the play, which often feels mythologized and removed, more urgent.

“What we’re trying to do, I suppose, is bring those acts of violence close to home to get into the actual darkness of them, the terror of them, the reality of them,” he says.

Cumming is no stranger to mining difficult material. The actor, who won a 1998 Tony in Sam Mendes’ revival of “Cabaret,” says he learned important lessons while playing Max, a gay man who finds love in the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau in Martin Sherman’s “Bent” in 2006.

“I have in my life played several parts, like this one, where I’ve had to go to a very, very dark place. Early on in my career, I wasn’t able to stop the darkness and my real life had a kind of a fumble, shall we say. Since then, I’ve been very, very aware of that.”

He survived “Bent” by not dwelling on the horror and by surrounding himself with comforts from home. He’s careful each night after playing Macbeth _ actually ALL of “Macbeth” _ to bounce back as best he can. “I don’t switch it off but I make a conscious effort to be merry.”

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Online:

http://lincolncenterfestival.org

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Mark Kennedy is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits