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  •  REVIEW: THE WILD DUCK

      The Wild Duck
    Regarding Henrik

    Outstanding performances make the Jean Cocteau Rep's production of Ibsen's difficult "The Wild Duck" a success.

    By MARC PALMIERI
    Offoffoff.com


    Actors have said that one could go mad playing Ibsen. The storm of torture bequeathed to Man, both by way of blood and fate (God?) ends rather badly for many of his characters and those around them — often leaving some form of suicide as the only available escape from what has been revealed as a world of pain and lies.

    THE WILD DUCK
    Company: Jean Cocteau Repertory.
    Written by: Henrik Ibsen.
    Directed by: Eve Adamson.
    Cast: Bill Fairbairn, Chad A. Suitts, Eileen Glenn , Harris Berlinsky, Tim Morton, Michael Surabian, Angela Madden, Erin Scanlon, Danaher Dempsey, Allen Hale, Sara Jeanne Asselin, Dan Zisson.
    Music by: Ellen Mandell.
    Sound design by: Ellen Mandell.
    Set design by: Robert Klingelhoefer.
    Costumes by: Margaret A. McKowen, Joel Ebarb.
    Lighting design by: Eve Adamson, David Kniep.
    Production stage manager: Dan Zisson.
    Translation: Rolf Fjelde.

    Related links: Official site
     SCHEDULE
    Jean Cocteau Repertory
    330 Bowery at Bond St.
    Feb. 20 - May 20, 2004

      
    The domestic drama on the surface of "The Wild Duck" is vintage Ibsen. A benignly befuddled father is faced with a shocking truth about his wife and child (bolstered by evidence of an inherited disease) that sends him into a tizzy that turns outrageously tragic. What makes the play most devastating, however, is not this new, upsetting "truth" but how it is revealed, and why.

    Young Gregers Werle, on a self-declared messianic mission to disabuse a loving family of their blind faith by "opening eyes" to past "sins," wreaks havoc on a naturally peaceful scene. A toxic Christian sense of guilt, shame and punishment is imposed with such disastrous eloquence upon the happy that one begins to feel the "ideals" of society as poison, and the living falsities that sustain a natural will to live, however misleading, as blessings.

    Jean Cocteau Repertory serves up an excellent production of this agonizing play. Director Eve Adamson (who also served as lighting designer) keeps the play moving along at a healthy clip, and has been blessed with a shining cast which reminds an audience member of the advantages of working in a rep company where players build a healthy rapport and comfort with one another season after season. Michael Surabian (Hjalmar Ekdal) gives a wonderful performance, successfully creating a character that, despite clumsily ushering in the play's horrible climax, remains somehow an undeserving victim. Chad A. Suitts' Gregers is charismatic, tortured and brutal. Suitts is tagged with many of the play's most challenging speeches, in that they sway off the dominating sense of realism, which could prove destructive to a production if handled by a less skillful actor. Harris Berlinsky (Doctor Relling) and Angela Madden (Gina Ekdal) counter with equally powerful performances in characters that hold, perhaps, the healthiest of ideals.

      The Wild Duck
    The set design for this play is of supreme importance, and Robert Klingelhoefer is up to the task. He provides a roomy playing space at the Bouwerie Lane while maintaining the presence — half physically, half suggested — of the all-important attic. Ellen Mandell's eerie soundtrack is mesmerizing and spooky. At times, amidst the intensity onstage, this reviewer wondered if Mandell's creeping high-pitched howl might have been coming from my own brain.

    This strange symptom is one that hints of success when it comes to a production of Ibsen.

    MARCH 29, 2004
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


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