I heard that An Enemy of the People was very relevant, so I thought it might be a modern play. I obviously did no research on it before seeing it, so I was saddened when I figured out while sitting in the Samuel Friedman Theatre yesterday afternoon that it was a century+ old. But boy, oh boy, was I ever wrong.
Ibsen’s play is incredibly relevant. An Enemy.. is about a town doctor, played by the incredible Boyd Gaines, in Norway who discovers the water source for his town’s spa (“baths” as they were called then) is poisoning the people and he goes about trying to get the mayor (and brother, played by Richard Thomas) to notify the public about the issue and correct it. Politics and money come into play, and the outcome is eerily similar to current events.
I was stunned by the parallels between now and then. It’s both comforting and disturbing to see that we as a society are still making the same mistakes that we were back in the 1800’s.
Manhattan Theatre Club has a hit on their hands, and I hope it’s received that way when it’s reviewed.
Last night Manhattan Theatre Club’s most recent production The Columnist opened and last week I took in a performance at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre starring the impeccable John Lithgow. The Columnist was about a closeted conservative Washington DC columnist during the 1960’s who was doing everything in his power to lead the conservative party ahead with his writing.
It’s very much a period piece; an interesting one at that though it may have gone on fifteen or twenty minutes too long. John Lithgow gave a superb performance as per usual as the columnist Joseph Alsop I was also very impressed with Gracie Gummer as his daughter Abigail. She matured believably through the years with ease. Mentions must also be made for the wonderful Boyd Gaines as Lithgow’s brother, Stewart Alsop, and Margaret Colin as Susan Mary Alsop, Lithgow’s wife (and beard, so to speak).
After a scandal surround him surfaces, Joseph ends up a lonely old man with only his daughter around him when he passes, a depressing ending to be sure. I enjoyed The Columnist because it was educational romp through the 1960’s, an era I’m always fascinated with.
A history lesson as well as a lesson in hypocrisy in two acts, The Columnist is another fine work produced by Manhattan Theatre Club.