and Crimes" by August Strindberg
Adapted and directed by Whitney Aronson
August 6 to 20, 2016 -- Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street
Presented by August Strindberg Repertory Theatre in association
with Theater Resources Unlimited.
Rodriguez and Christina Toth. Photo by Remy.
Strindberg Rep emphasized the comedy in it remaking of Strindberg's
"Crimes and Crimes," directed by Associate Artistic
Director Whitney Aronson. The script was radically refashioned
to bring out the humor that underlies a play that is mostly known
as an impressionistic study of thought.
exotic lifestyle in 1890s Paris and Berlin, bastions of free love
and feminism, brought him to the verge of a nervous breakdown
and provided him the material for this brash comedy.
play, "Brott och Brott" (There are Crimes and Crimes)
recalls, but afar off, the style of Strindberg's middle period.
It was first published in 1899 with "Advent" under the
general title, "On a Higher Court." In these plays,
Strindberg's theme of justice was caught up with his religious
trend, which was already manifest in his 1892 play, "The
Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven." Interestingly, Strindberg
preferred the title "Intoxication." Its Parisian atmosphere,
well-delineated secondary characters and subtle mixture of symbolism
and realism add richness to the piece.
original "strange comedy" is set in a Paris of the mind,
not the city of actuality. A playwright named Maurice, after years
of struggle, is expecting success from a drama about to be produced.
But on the evening of his victory, in a fit of wild passion, he
abandons his mistress and her child to take up with the mistress
of a friend. The child dies and he accuses his new mistress of
committing murder, while he himself is looked upon by the law
as the probable criminal. This new adaptation offered a new, lighter
take on the story, modernizing the location and setting to contemporary
New York and heightening the absurdity by making the human child
a treasured champion show dog.
dark humor of some of its scenes have traditionally justified
labeling the play a comedy, but that was not enough for Director
Whitney Aronson, who condensed play in order to release more of
its comedic potential. Having changed the mistress' child into
a show dog, she cast the animal with a woman in a dog suit. Since
the pooch was supposed to be a Komondor -- a Hungarian sheepdog
with a long, corded coat -- the costume was made of cotton string
the close of the original play, is it discovered that the child
had died naturally, with the consequence that Maurice is relieved
of the nightmare into which he had sunk. The drama then becomes
a kind of impressionistic study of thought with an ironic conclusion,
in which Maurice agrees to divide his life between prayer and
acceptance of the worldly joys now restored to him. In Aronson's
adaptation, the religious content was downplayed.
Aronson did not change the child to a dog for comic effect, but
for believability. She wrote, "I actually did it because
in the original, the child dies and nobody REALLY cares. Within
hours of being exonerated, Maurice is happily choosing between
going to church and attending his now successful play. I
thought that the audience would not be able to forgive anyone
in the play for so easily moving on from the death of a human
child. A treasured animal's death, though tragic and upsetting,
is more consistent with the general reaction and behavior that
Strindberg's characters demonstrate."
Ivette Dumeng as the
devoted wife, Kate Ostrowski as the dog.
Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
AND DIRECTED BY WHITNEY ARONSON
Executive Producer: Jessa-Raye Court
Producing Artistic Director: Robert Greer
John Cencio Burgos, Ivette Dumeng, Crystal Edn,* Katie Ostrowski,
Alyssa Simon,* Christina Toth and Theodoric Wells
Stage Manager Becca Pickett*
Sets by Daniel Krause
Lighting by Jason Fok
Costumes by Matthew C. Hampton
Music and Sound by Andy Evan Cohen
Props by Christopher Kelley
has accomplished her goal. The play has witty moments and comic
scenes. The absurdism makes for great melodramatic humor as well.
The revision keeps the audience focused on its entertaining and
engaging story for the entire duration." -- Yani
Perez, Off-off Online
courtesy of Actors Equity Assn.