Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Broadway: An Enemy of the People

Only Michael Siberry (right), as decadent dad-in-law,
points the way to a new Ibsenesque,
an irrealism haunted by David Lynch hobgoblins 

MTC at the Friedman Theater
written by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
directed by Doug Hughes
seen on September 28, 2012

A town's livelihood depends on its new spa, so it attacks a local doctor for proving that the cheap & dirty construction will spread disease, not cure it. Timed to coincide with the 2012 election, this revival of Ibsen's 1882 work finds its energy in condemning the know-nothing townspeople. Parallels to the Republican party draw themselves, of course. Adaptor Lenkiewicz polishes the play up with pithy dialogue and canny use of English idioms but she also cuts the protagonist's mulishness. Hughes follows her lead by directing a show that's light on subtext and heavy on rabble-rousing speechifying. Boyd Gaines, as the doctor, provides some depth, allowing himself to appear ridiculous by plumbing his middle-aged character's naïvety. MTC's impulse to stage Ibsen may be socially liberal but its aesthetics are too conservative to produce anything but easily-digestible melodrama. This Enemy's irony is that it's a safe crowd-pleaser about the wrongness of that approach in life, politics, and art.


An Enemy of the People runs through November 11. Tickets?


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