Megan is a stand-up comic who has had a lifelong attraction to the role of Lady Macbeth, though her actor friend tells her she could never play her. She’s sexy, dangerous, and mad, while Megan has the personality of a golden retriever.
Megan Gogerty’s one-woman show is part long-form comedy sketch, and part dramatic monologue, interweaving Shakespeare with anecdotes from Gogerty’s life. Though the play is frequently referred to, actually most of the show is an exploration of what it’s like to be a woman on the male-dominated comedy circuit. The American scene seems tougher and cruder than the British one – her devastating stories frequently elicited gasps as well as laughs from the audience.
So where does Lady Macbeth fit into this narrative? It turns out, Megan hasn’t actually read the play. And when she does, she is horrified to discover that her heroine is “barely in it”, and even more horrified to find out how quickly she loses her agency. For Megan, this experience is analogous to her experience as a woman on stage – in trying to have power, she becomes disempowered; in putting herself out there as a sign of strength, she leaves herself open to objectification.
The show was at its best when Gogerty was making astute observations about the precarious nature of female performance. The paradoxes she explored felt powerful and true. At times, she could veer into earnestness, with a tone that is perhaps more suited to American audiences. On the whole, however, I enjoyed her analysis of her craft.
What I enjoyed less, however, was the Shakespeare aspect. I felt at times like I was being taught a literature lesson, and also found some of her interpretations of the text a little too dogmatic. As an ex-English student, I found This a little grating.
I did, however, buy into the twist at the end: if you want to have agency as a woman, you don’t want to be Lady Macbeth. You want to be a witch – with the power to control the future, agency over yourself and others, and a supportive “coven” of weird sisters.
Overall, it was an interesting and entertaining hour, but I’m not sure Gogerty necessarily needed the Shakespearean frame narrative, or how successfully it came off.