Monday, November 22, 2010


Not even close. NICHOLAS NICKELBY is the clear champ, springing from 19th century England by way of Dickens, into 21st century New England by way of adapter David Edgar and artistic director Spiro Veloudos. This Lyric Stage Company production is a regional premiere of a work seldom performed because of its size and scope; "The Life and Adventures of"our eponymous hero require no fewer than 25 of Boston's finest thespians playing 150+ characters, in and out of some 1600 costumes, in the course of six hours. I saw the whole thing in one glorious marathon sitting- matinee, dinner, evening performance. I emerged exhilarated, satisfied, like I'd been far away and much better for it. In a roiling sea of first-rate performances many floated to the top: Nigel Gore as the scurrilous Wackford Squeers and the smarmy Sir Mulberry Hawk; Will Lyman as Nicholas'cold and stingy Uncle Ralph; Jason Powers exquisitely touching as Smike, an abused orphan adopted by Nick. The whole thing ticks along like a well-oiled 19th century machine on a logistically inventive set; the view from backstage must be equally entertaining. It's on til December 19 at THE LYRIC STAGE

As for VENGEANCE IS THE LORD'S, the world premiere by Bob Glaudini, directed by Peter DuBois over at The Huntington, I hesitate to pronounce; if vengeance is the lord's, I wish it would happen sooner rather than later.
This is a foul-mouthed, Arthur Miller rehash about familial guilt. But there is no tragic fall; this family can't get much lower on the moral and ethical food chain: the family business involves stolen auto parts and faulty repairs, murder,regular brawling and drinking, the foulest language, all of it happening over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. On top of it, mom's a lousy cook. There's one son who seems to have wandered in from another family; he keeps asking questions like "What about the truth?" The plot pivots on this moral dilemma: should they support parole for the guy who brutally murdered their daughter. HUH? Is that a trick question? We're not talking about whether or not they should forgive him--we're asked to believe that THIS family would actually agonize over whether the man serving 3 concurrent life sentences for a violent murder of a member of their family should be out walking the streets. Is that even possible under the law? Where did all their scruples suddenly come from? The whole thing is so trumped up, I could barely keep from screaming. The whole cast seemed stiff and under-rehearsed. Oh, and there is no Act II. Nice set. Thank goodness. Vengeance may be the audience's. Now through Dec 12.

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