Friday, May 10, 2013

Tom Gualtieri goes solo

Tom Gualtieri
Tom Gualtieri (photo by Rob Sutton)
He had us from "When shall we three meet again...?"

He never lets us go.

Tom Gualtieri is Macbeth.

And Lady Macbeth.

And pretty much everyone else, including that infamous trio of "secret, black, and midnight hags" that he embodies in fully-invested, tense and gnarled physicality.
Painting showing three faces with hooked noses in profile, eyes looking up. Each has an arm outstretched with crooked fingers.
Die drei Hexen by Johann Heinrich Füssli (1783)
I might still long to see Alan Cumming make his way through Shakespearean darkness alone (and, yes, yes, I do). But I'm not at all sorry to have spent eighty minutes in thrall to sly, supple Gualtieri and That Play: A Solo Macbeth at Stage Left Studio.

Even when not physically conjuring the three weird ones, he knows how to shape every minute tilt of the head or flick of the eye into telling elements along a winding, complex dance. His silky, sinuous, glittering snake of a Lady Macbeth could fill an entire performance on her own. You can feel how much he relishes his moments as her, his finest.

Tom Gualtieri
photo by Rob Sutton
A word of warning. Stage Left Studio--you may remember it from my review of Margaret Morrison's Home in Her Heart--is a tiny speck of space tucked away on the sixth floor of an unassuming building just south of Penn Station. Seating is not only scarce; it is virtually in the lap of any performer strutting and fretting his or her hour or so upon the slip of a stage. Audience and player(s) are both captive. And, in the case of That Play, you might find yourself fretting and sweating along with an increasingly desperate Scotsman, particularly when you're asked to recall...well, I'm not going to give that juicy part away.

Gualtieri and co-writer and director Heather Hill seem to take perverse pleasure in plunging each one of us into the shadows. For this is not just the "Scottish Play," but the Scottish Play with a clever, sometimes amusing Narrator who not only guides and comments but also obeys his own compulsion to, as he would put it, "write the darkness into the room."

Nominated for the 2013 Drama Desk Award ("Unique Theatrical Experience"), That Play: A Solo Macbeth concludes its extended run on May 25. Just five performances remain--Saturday, May 11; Tuesday, May 14; Wednesday, May 15; Thursday, May 16, and Saturday, May 25, all at 7:30pm.

For Stage Left Studio information and tickets, click here.
To visit the Web site of That Play: A Solo Macbeth, click here.

Stage Left Studio
214 West 30th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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