Saturday, June 25, 2011

Through a Glass Darkly **

Jenny Worton's adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's shattering 1961 film is now at New York Theatre Workshop in an Atlantic Theater Company production starring the young British actress Carey Mulligan. Her riveting performance as Karin, an incurable schizophrenic who is trying to hold her family and herself together during a summer vacation on a remote island, is perhaps reason enough to see it. However, the very idea of turning Bergman's film into a play seems to me misguided. Without the stunning cinematography and its tight closeups, much is lost. I was also struck by strong resemblances to The Seagull. Both have mostly absent parents more interested in their artistic career than in their children, both have sons who have written a play that is treated dismissively by those parents and, in a stroke that could not be coincidental, both have Mulligan's character standing on a makeshift stage declaiming the son's play. Chekhov did it better. Ben Rosenfield is strong as Karin's younger brother with whom she is far too affectionate. Jason Butler Harner is earnest but a bit bland as Karin's long-suffering husband. Chris Sarandon seemed more distant than required as Karin's father. Karin's breakdown is extremely painful to sit through. There was palpable restlessness in the audience. Takeshi Kata's washed-out gray set reflects the play's bleakness, but doesn't capture the isolation of a remote island. David Levaux's direction seemed to lose clarity at times. Showing us Carey Mulligan's lovely breasts not once but twice was too much titillation. Running time: 90 minutes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did see "Through a Glass Darkly, and liked it. I found the play very emotionally gripping, and that does not happen too often. Mulligan was great, the other actors okay. The people in the audience when I attended did not even stir.