Hard on the heels of Suzanne Bachner's fabulous adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde comes Blunt Theatre Company's version, adapted by the company's co-artistic directors Kenneth Garson and Sheila Morgan. If it was neither as glamorous nor as polished as Bachner's Circle, it was nevertheless successful in its own right, a much darker, rougher interpretation that gave Schnitzler's increasingly popular work a spiky, modern edge.
Morgan directed with a wealth of wonderful ideas, and if the level of production wasn't up to the sophistication of her concepts, she still displayed a fertile imagination at the service of a venerable text. The performances of the large cast were of uneven quality, but that certainly doesn't mean that anyone was awful - far from it. There were degrees of goodness, with top honors going to Joseph Langham and Heather Murdock, followed closely by Emily Tuckman and Dan Cohen. These four performers invested their roles with such natural inner life and minute detail that they lit up the stage with every brief appearance.
And with the primitive facilities of the Trilogy Theatre, that stage was dark! No lighting designer was credited, and only one scene, lighted primarily by candles, gave the show any visual distinction. (Aside from a series of amusing archival film clips of animated and live action pornography that underscored the play's character's interconnecte sexual escapades. A witty and welcome touch that would have been brilliant had the technical means at Blunt's disposal been of better quality.)
What is it about Schnitzler's classic comedy that has attracted so many productions and adaptations lately? Of course, sex is always in fashion, especially now as we face a new century after twenty years of living in an atmosphere where sex equals death. Perhaps there is a reaction that enough has been enough, that despite the fear and the precautions that must still be taken, it is time to resume living. And life includes sex, in all its messy, intoxicating, and complicated glory. Whatever the reasons, La Ronde, in both its recent versions, continues to fascinate. Especially when as well conceived as this production was.
(Also featuring Monica Cortez, Kenneth Garson, Austin Green, Lisa Maher, Clint McCown, Teresa Ryno. sets by Garson, costumes by Morgan, lighting uncredited, sound and video by Garson and Langham.)
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Copyright 2001 Doug DeVita