Riveting “Thrice To Mine” Expands on Lady M at Bridge Street Theatre
It is a great gift to take another look at a familiar story and be so convincingly swayed with a bold, fearless interpretation that your outlook and perception on a character, play and story have been forever altered by this new imagining. That’s what happened to me this past week in Bridge Street Theatre’s recent production of “Thrice To Mine,” a Regional Premiere written and performed by the majestic Roxanne Fay. When the play and the character in question are “Macbeth” and Lady Macbeth, the appreciation for the scholarship, nerve and divine inspiration that goes into creating “Thrice To Mine” only grows and deepens.
“Thrice To Mine” was presented alongside “Shylock” running in rotating rep for the last two weekends in August at the indispensably adventurous Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill under the umbrella title “…And Every Tale Condemns Me For A Villain.” The two plays explored a single character from different perspectives and presented their stories in one-person shows. Steven Patterson in “Shylock” played the character of Tubal and investigated Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice” from many different angles and perspectives. It included scenes not only from Shakespeare’s play but Marlowe’s “The Jew of Malta” as well and many different accounts and historical facts about antisemitism throughout history.
“Thrice To Mine” is something altogether different. Roxanne Fay began working on it when she was an artist-in-residence at Hawthornden Castle in Lasswade, Scotland and what she is after is to tell the story of Lady Macbeth from the perspective of the historical facts we know about the actual woman Shakespeare based his play on. She was named Gruoch whose second husband was Macbeth. They would become King and Queen Macbeth, he would claim the throne in both his and his wife’s name making her the first Queen of Scotland.
It is too easy to say this is Lady Macbeth as a character in “Game of Thrones’ but the thoroughly imagined world and life that Ms. Fay has created in her conception, writing and performance beg for some comparative accomplishment. It is an epic, earthly yet mystical adventure of a woman’s triumphant survival in the 11th century. She introduces herself in an opening incantation: “I am the daughter of a prince. Widow of a king. Mother of a king. Witch. Murderer. I am the creator of Kings. The dowager Queen.” The play thrillingly fills in the details of this life with a language familiar and yet arcane. It takes a few moments to acclimate to the middle ages and Ms. Fay does a terrific job with her language guiding you into this brutish world that coexists with spells and incantations. The play has familiar Shakespearean echoes but it also thrills with a story that diverges from the one we know, significantly. The play is that much more powerful for these empathic imaginative leaps.
Roxanne Fay has been at Bridge Street Theatre numerous times with terrific performances in “Leni,” “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” and productions of her own work “Home Fires Burning,” “Dream Child” and “Upon This Rock.” This performance is an astonishing tour-de-force accomplishment. That she wrote it as well almost defies belief. I have seen her in a solo show before but was not as compelled as I was seeing “Thrice To Mine.” It is a remarkable, courageous conception. It takes the Lady Macbeth of Shakespeare who many see as standing behind her husband urging him to murder and pulls her out to center stage to take ownership of her life marrying her husbands, protecting and arming her son, preventing her future pregnancies and running the world she lives in. Roxanne, through the course of the play, is seen skipping with joy, swooning in love and admiration and steeling herself against imminent danger. She faces all that life throws at her with a determination and grit that makes you see an indomitable warrior spirit in every woman’s life.
The storytelling is masterful, all-encompassing and physical, using every inch of the rough wooden O set designed by John Sowle which did double duty for the run of the two shows. There’s a circle center stage made of planks that are slightly raked. For “Thrice To Mine” there is a fire pit in the center that emanates a glow during the witch scenes and a crimson bench upstage in a royal pattern. The lighting also by Sowle is kept busy with the very active story that moves nimbly throughout the playing space and over the hour and a half running time which passes by in a blink.
I so admire and appreciate the courage, artistry and outstanding ability of Bridge Street Theatre and these performers, Steven Patterson and Roxanne Fay, to schedule these performances and accomplish them. I am eager to revisit BST in a couple of weeks for the World Premiere of “Better” by Michelle Carter running 9/12 thru 9/22.