That Play: A Solo Macbeth
Have you ever had horrible thoughts? For example: Stabbing your arrogant boss in the back with a chef's knife? Pushing your co-worker down the staircase for getting that promotion you wanted? Ever actually gone through with it? Macbeth has.
The Jacksina Company, Inc. proudly presents "That Play: A Solo Macbeth." Starring Tom Gualtieri and directed by Heather Hill, playing at Stage Left Studio until Nov. 19. Written by both Gualtieri and Hill, this well known Shakespearean play has never been funnier or more captivating, especially by a solo actor.
In 75 minutes, Gualtieri brings to life 19 different characters, from the cowardly to insane Macbeth to his manipulative wife, Lady Macbeth. From Thanes and witches to a drunken porter, Gualtieri portrays each and every character through stance, gestures, a strong, compelling voice and facial expressions. It's almost as if you're watching a play with a full on cast.
The retelling of this most famous Scottish play is given by one actor's perspective. It's like listening to a storyteller recount a tale they heard from their great grandparents when they were young. Watching Gualtieri move across the stage with such gracefulness and dominance was highly fascinating to witness. He simply owned that stage. Gualtieri was born to act out this solo play. All 19 parts were made for him.
The story of Macbeth is usually one we read in junior high school or high school. For some, like myself, it allowed us to be taken out of our reality and into an unfamiliar, majestic time. A time run by kings and queens, it was filled with castles and ships, riding on horses through the night and honorable swordfights. For others, it can be easily forgotten because at that age, let's face it, what kid wants to read a play with the old English language?
Don't get me wrong, Shakespearean language is undoubtedly hard to understand especially if you have never seen the play or have read it. But it's not that difficult to follow along especially since Gualtieri does a phenomenal job narrating in between scenes so that the audience is up to speed and chuckling every so often. There is never a dull moment and it is extremely challenging to keep your eyes off him. Granted he is the only actor upon the stage.
The play begins with the sound of troubling winds and we soon meet the three witches foretelling the futures of both Macbeth and his best friend, Banquo. "Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none," is what one witch tells Banquo. "All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!"
Lady Macbeth receives the news almost immediately about Macbeth's encounter with the three witches. She reads his letter aloud on what supposedly is her throne but in fact is a large rectangular black box, the only prop used throughout the entire play.
The outfit chosen for Gualtieri is a wise and practical choice. Lady Macbeth is able to glide elegantly and yet creepily with stretchy but not too baggy pants, giving the effect of wearing a dress.
Hearing the news about her husband becoming Thane of Cawdor and king hereafter excites her. But the Thane of Cawdor still exists. She convinces her husband that the Thane must meet his maker. "To beguile the time, look like the time," she tells Macbeth.
While yes, that advice maybe good advice depending on how you use it; it probably shouldn't pertain to a situation that involves murder. With a conniving yet convincing push by his wife, both team up to have King Duncan killed in his bedroom. Lady Macbeth drugs the guards and Macbeth follows though with the deed.
Unlike her traumatized husband, Lady Macbeth has no remorse. That changes very slowly throughout the play. They both seem to change roles and it is Macbeth who even has his own best friend, Banquo, killed to try to cover his own steps so that he may continue to carry on his title.
Macbeth also does not consult with his wife about his plan. He begins to go completely mad when Banquo's ghost appears at the dinner table one night. In the end, Macbeth and his lady both get what they deserve.
Gualtieri does leave us with one piece of advice that perhaps, if both the king and queen had heard, they would have had a very different ending, "Unnatural deeds to breed unnatural troubles." I could not agree more.
"That Play: A Solo Macbeth" runs through Nov. 19 at Stage Left Studio, 214 West 30 Street, Sixth Floor. For tickets or info, call 212-838-2134 or visit www.stageleftstudio.net