|Scene from Moulin Rouge, the ballet. Dancers: Olivia Kelly, JoAnne Schmidt and Casey Taylor. Photo credit Rich Sofranko|
Friday, February 15, 2013
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
|Scene from John Gabriel Borkman - left to right Fanny (Daina Michelle Griffith), Erhart (Luka Glinsky) and Gunhild (Bridget Connors)|
Up stairs her husband paces the floor, back and forth ,with metronomic regularity, rehashing his past and planning a resurrection to days of his former glory, wealth, respectability and power. Clomp, clomp he goes, to and fro, for eight years, while his wife tortures herself below by fixating on the family’s fall from grace.
Ibsen craftily lets the story unfold piece by piece like some Brobdinangian machine full of gears, levers and wheels telling the story of two twin sisters enamored with the same man, only later, years later, to fight for control over his son. There’s revelations of a prior love quartet followed by a quadrangular interest in young Erhart, Borkman’s son, eager to leave his dismal home for the more pleasant company of a neighboring woman, vampishly skilled in matters of the heart and seven years his elder.
Director Martin Giles has assembled a stellar cast and manages to give each one a finely delineated personality. Bridget Connors gets my vote for best of show with her commanding presence, her nuanced anguish and her stately, though tormented, ways. As her twin sister, Ella, Robin Walsh is softly manipulative, a bit more subtle, but no less quick of mind and verbally resourceful.
Daina Michelle Griffith adds a bright and animated personality to the mix as the astutely formidable seductress who all so easily captives the gullible Erhart (Luka Glinsky),.
As the title character, Malcolm Tulip seems to not let 16 years of disgrace, including five spent in a penitentiary, diminish his self-esteem, his bravado and alpha male disposition. Tulip adds a touch of madness to the character to go along with a great deal of self-denial, a madness that increases in intensity when he finally leaves his self-imposed prison of his own house for an escape to freedom in the blustery outdoors.
For me, the thrill of the play is experiencing the way Ibsen slowly outlines the drama like some great visual artist sketching an image that becomes distinct only near the end. He uses the back story to explain present circumstances, and witty, often humorous, dialogue, to explain the history and motivations of the various relationships and how they’ve developed over time.
On a par with the acting, the technical crew is equally exemplary, starting with Ryan McMasters’ mood reinforcing sound designs, Christine Casaus’ eye-catching costumes and Toni Ferrieri’s sprawling set that ingeniously transforms into a wintery landscape near the play’s climax with the simple unfolding of yards and yards of beige cloth.