The Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham, NY
Major Arcana; Fool, Find Yourself
Created by toUch performance art (Marisas Roberts, Elizabeth McGuire)
Directed and Choreographed by Elizabeth MacGuire and Rob Brinkmann
Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
This is a difficult show to talk about. Or, perhaps, talking about it is the only way to address it. That it is a show in two acts in which you are the principal player in the first half and a willing witness to the second part is indisputable. The actors are with you at the beginning, participants in a carnival complete with bonfire, fortune tellers, tarot readers, something to drink and popcorn at the lobby counter. You pick a card, you meet your mystic connection, you participate in an "experience" and become a part of the proceedings. It's an immersive experience in which you are one with your spiritual guide, for a while. Then, a beautiful woman, Madison Stratton, sings and the carnival subsides as you enter the theatre at the Mac-Haydn in Chatham New York. The immersive moves behind you and an examination of the Tarot's Major Arcana (the trump cards in a tarot pack/22 of the 78 cards) commences. You know now that what came before was preparation for what's ahead. The circus commences.
The next woman you meet is Maya Cuevas; she, who was Aldonza a month ago in "Man of La Mancha," is now the tarot reader, a mystic who can explain the meaning of the cards you pick from the pack held out before you by the Magician. As Cuevas interprets the cards of the major arcana, cards that may affect your future and your present, cards that emerge from your past and your uncertainty to come, her spirit joins with that of the man of cards to bring forth music and dance and images of earth and moon and femininity and sensual allure. The show is on and it moves into the world of mysticism, both fascinating and revealing.
William Taitel is the Magician. His is the job of swelling your heart and bringing you into the show where you dictate the plot and the songs through your card picks. But what do you see when you draw from the deck is pure magic, contortionistic behavior on a high, suspended hoop, a hand-walking figure with a rhythmic certitude, a burlesque figure with a figure to reveal, lovers who dance their tribulations and triumphs. Singers of all genres and forms populate the stage for an hour and when the major arcana is complete the show is over. You are done with its reality and you leave with a new sense of how the world works.
The experience is real, the cards leave a sense of change and point you toward your future. This is a show like nothing you have ever seen before. It doesn't matter how old you are, the circus makes you young again. And it doesn't matter how young you are, the show educates you in many things. If you think you don't - or think you won't - like theater this show may change your mind completely. It certainly grabs you by the brain and shakes things out of you. I should know; I'm seventy-five and have spent seventy-four years with the theater. John Saunders, Producing Artistic Director of the Mac-Haydn must be congratulated for bringing this unique project to Chatham. It is risky but the risk is worthwhile. New audiences may flock to its second and last performance here. Old Audiences may be bewildered but they will talk about it for a long while. Theater people will be intrigued and entranced. And everyone who partakes of this circus/carnival/musical will remember it for some time to come. John is even on the stage singing and acting and enjoying us out there in the darkness. The Mac-Haydn ends its season with the most unusual evening of your life and John is telling you that you're worth it.
+ 09/24/2021 +
Major Arcana plays a second performance on Friday, October 1 at 7:00pm at the Mac-Haydn Thesater,1925 Route 203, Chatham, NY For information and tickets call 518-392-9292 or go to their website, www.machaydntheatre.org.