Doing a revival of An Enemy Of The People seemed like a great idea on paper. A classic play by Henrik Ibsen that is politically charged; timed to coincide with the presidential election. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney and Big Bird and all that silliness is far more entertaining than the tepid drama we saw on stage Tuesday night at the Manhattan Theater Cub's revival. It wasn't for lack of trying, though!
The show is brilliantly acted by a stellar ensemble that includes multiple Tony winner Boyd Gaines and Richard Thomas. It's almost worth seeing just for the performances!
The set design is also quite wonderful, surprising and revelatory. We were not expecting so much!
Our biggest gripe is with the actual source material itself. A play written over 130 years ago about life in Norway and the political struggles of the time is just not that relevant to modern-day audiences in America. At least The Best Man, which had a very successful recent revival, felt familiar and current - even though that play was written by Gore Vidal in the mid 1960s.
And, this new adaptation of An Enemy Of The People by Rebecca Lenkiewicz failed to add much warmth or heart to the script, instead injecting it with touches of humor - some which worked and some which really did not at all.
What An Enemy Of The People does really well is INTENSITY! So if you're a fan of actors acting intensely, or just a hardcore Ibsen fan, then you should check out this revival. If not, just stay at home and watch the upcoming debates!
P.S. There's a reason why A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler are revived more frequently. Those Ibsen plays are far superior!
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