Sunday, September 9, 2012

An Enemy of the People *

(Please click on the title to see the full review.)

The years have not been kind to Ibsen's 1882 landmark play. What must have seemed daring and original at the time can easily come across as both overheated and shopworn now. Perhaps a strong case can still be made for this play, but the production now in previews at Manhattan Theatre Club does not make it. First of all, there is far too much shouting. Director Doug Hughes seems to think that increasing the volume will improve the dialog; he is wrong. Richard Thomas, whose performances usually disappoint me, does so once again here as Mayor Stockmann. Even Boyd Gaines, whose performaces never disappoint me, seems a bit off his game here as the protagonist, Dr. Stockmann. The other actors perform their stereotypical roles enthusiastically. John Lee Beatty's attractive revolving set creates four different locations effectively. Catherine Zuber's costumes do not distract. If only the play were not so leaden and self-righteous and had at least a smidgen of nuance. The best thing I can say about Rebecca Lenkiewicz's adaptation is that it makes the play a bit shorter. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes including intermission.

1 comment:

Tony Piccolo said...

Hi Bob,
RE: Enemy of the People: Your review was clear and incisive, as usual. Only a suggestion: it's possible that they might have cleaned up this production since you reviewed it on 9/7. (Or maybe a play that I had to read many years ago--that had bored me to death like other assignments in a dull course--finally came alive on stage.) I saw it last week as an adult and thought it nailed some of the obscenities of idealism pretty well, especially in an election year. You're right about the shouting, but I thought Boyd Gaines a convincing naif in the kind of self-righteous mess familiar, for example, among American academics.
Thanks again for your thoughtful and useful and stimulating reviews.
Tony Piccolo