Posted in adaptation, dark drama, David Harrower, Ibsen, Ibsen adaptation, renowned playwright, The Pearl Theatre Company

Majority rule

It rarely happens when I find myself speechless.

David Harrower’s adaptation of Public Enemy, at the Pearl Theater through November 6th, leaves me gob-smacked as our midwestern friends might say.

Populism has a way of drowning out reason, and majority rule can have unwelcome consequences. Ibsen knew this when he created An Enemy of the People, translated by Charlotte Barslund for Harrower’s re-imaging as Public Enemy.

Crowd mentality

The man of principle, Ibsen says, stands alone while the majority is lulled into serving the self-interests of the powerful. And that man, the individual, who stands alone is “the strongest man.”

Dr. Stockmann (Jimonn Cole) stands alone, of course. Stockmann’s insistence that he has discovered that the Baths which are a tourist attraction for their little burg are a health hazard threatens the town’s livelihood and prosperity. He’s alienated everyone, except his wife Katrine (Nilaja Sun) and daughter, Petra (Arielle Goldman) who both acknowledge his genius. The rest of the town, represented by his brother, Peter, the Mayor (Giuseppe Jones), the printer and small businessman, Aslasken (John Keating), the hypocritical newspaper men, Billing (Alex Purcell) and Hovstad (Robbie Tann), all turn against him.His father-in-law, Kiil (Dominic Cuskern) is especially angry since it looks like his tannery has caused the pollution.

Harrower (Good With People, Blackbird, A Slow Air) is no stranger to moral uncertainties and slippery slopes. His adaptation of Ibsen is lean and to the point. The text is thought-provoking, and anything but reassuring. Earlier productions of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, like the one at MTC several seasons back, were equally disheartening.

Standing out in this fine cast, Cole plays Stockmann’s as humbly arrogant with a fine subtlety. The Pearl’s Artistic Director, Hal Brooks directs the ensemble with a light touch, playing on both the tragedy and humor in Public Enemy.

For tickets and more information, please visit The Pearl website.


Posted in 2-hander, Brits Off Broadway, bullying, David Harrower, nuclear testing, Scots Festival

"Good With People"

Andrew Scott-Ramsay and Blythe Duff star in David Harrower’s “Good With People,” launching the 2013 Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters. Photos by Carol Rosegg

Having a nuclear test site in your town might put a damper on tourism. Helensburgh, Scotland has been made relatively desolate. 

People come, but just for day trips, as Helen Hughes (Blythe Duff) laments in “Good With People,” David Harrower’s play enjoying a NY premiere at 59E59 Theaters, through April 21st.
Helen works at the Seaview Hotel where Evan Bold (Andrew Scott-Ramsay) is one of the few guests. Evan, who’s been in Qatar and Peshawar as a charge nurse for many years, has returned for his parents’ remarriage.

Blythe Duff  and Andrew Scott-Ramsay star in David Harrower’s “Good With People,” launching the 2013 Brits Off Broadway festival at 59E59 Theaters. Photos by Carol Rosegg

Evan and Helen share an unpleasant history since Evan, out of loyalty to his dad’s job at the naval facility, was one of the boys from the base who bullied her son Jack after he protested nuclear testing.
The actors are both very good story tellers, holding the attention, despite a minimal story to tell.
Puns and misapprehensions provide some modicum of amusement in “Good With People,”
but Harrower’s very short script seems a bit self-indulgent. Long pauses seem like superfluous dramatic tics in a play that is just an hour long.

“Good With People” is the Scots part of 59E59’s annual Brits Off Broadway festival. It is produced by Traverse Theatre Company and Datum PPaines Plough.
For more information about “Good With People,” and Brits Off Broadway, please visit