By Jenny Macdonald; Directed by Joe Salvatore
Produced by May Day Creates
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 8.25.16
VENUE #12: 64E4 UNDERGROUND, 64 East 4th Street
by Piper Rasmussen on 8.13.16
Jenny Macdonald in Enthroned. Photo by Aidan O'Neill.
BOTTOM LINE: Enthroned is an intimate story of growth and change, with a refreshing perspective on the tales we spin ourselves.
64E4 UNDERGROUND—a below-street-level theatre of maybe 50 seats—offers very close quarters: the audience sits on two adjacent sides facing the back corner of a black box space. The aisles are perilously narrow and everyone gets a great view—meaning that a solo performer is literally backed into a corner with nowhere to hide. Jenny Macdonald rises to the challenge.
Enthroned is an autobiographical work, showing Macdonald’s progression from childhood to her present self, in mostly chronological order. The show flickers between the rhetorical style of a storyteller caricaturing a supporting cast of brothers, friends, and lovers, and the intimacy of a performer reenacting her lived experience as herself, using “me” and “I.” It’s a mirrored experience that’s very true to the spirit of fairy tales—old stories that shake off their dust and become newly powerful when they’re visited with a new perspective.
Disney-ites should readjust their expectations; this production only obliquely references iconic fairy tale princesses and queens, mostly through props as Macdonald’s life passes: a single glittery, bedazzled white pump; a cottage-slash-music-box; a model spinning wheel; a tiny mirror. In such an intimate space it’s easy to see the imperfections in the props (strange weightless Styrofoam books, wiggly hand-drawn circles, sneakers with uneven variations in their glittery red paint). This can be expected of a Fringe show, but in some instances, more care could have been given, especially given Troy Hourie's resume. For example, the ribbon of a pendant that Macdonald wears is maddeningly short for how she’s meant to interact with it. Sound often defaults to the faint buzzing of the lighting instruments, and that lighting creates simple mood spaces, nothing fancy. The end result is a show that’s, by necessity, all about the performer.
Luckily, Jenny Macdonald is committed and compelling as she shares her story. The narrative, though occasionally saggy, is etched in enough detail to offer the pleasure of a good yarn—or a relatable fable, complete with “a queen, a princess, a devil, and the truest love”—but spare enough at the essential places to leave certain questions unanswered, ones that may well settle on you on your journey home. This is definitely an experience that creates community in the space, and one you can share with a queen in your own life.
(Enthroned plays at VENUE #12: 64E4 UNDERGROUND, 64 East 4th Street, through August 25, 2016. The running time is 1 hour 10 minutes. Performances are Fri 8/12 at 7; Mon 8/15 at 5:15; Fri 8/19 at 5; Mon 8/22 at 7; and Thu 8/25 at 2:45. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit enthroned.info.)
Enthroned is by written and performed by Jenny Macdonald. Direction and dramaturgy by Joe Salvatore. Design is by Troy Hourie. Stage Manager is Rachel Zweig. Assistant Stage Manager is Cassie Holzum. Produced by May Day Creates and Michelle Cahill.