By admin on Apr 7, 2009 | In ATW Reviews
Watching the world premiere of an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground at Yale Rep is a lot like driving past the scene of a horrible accident. You know you should avert your eyes and resist the temptation to look at the carnage, but something — in this case Bill Camp’s riveting performance — makes you slow down and rubberneck to see as much as you can.
This seems apropos for the dark work in which Camp’s character, a former government official known only as “Man,” has retreated from society in a fit of self-loathing despair which he disguises as a repulsion for a corrupt world. What revolts Man most in this co-adaptation by Camp and Director Robert Woodruff (from a translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) is his own inability to balance his need to be loved and accepted with his desire to inflict the worst of himself on humanity. In doing so, he ensures his rejection.
“I am a sick man … a wicked man,” he cries.
He tells us his tale, first by talking into the webcam on his laptop in the stark, snow covered office of his retreat (scenic design by David Zinn). His image from the webcam and scenes from his past are projected on the walls (the sometimes moving images from designer Peter Nigrini can cause a little motion sickness). We see Man trying to fit in at a party, which was a turning point in his life. The picture of this event, and others, is completed with vocal and musical background noises provided by Michael Attias (composer and sound designer) and Merritt Janson on either side of the stage. During the course of the piece, Janson also plays a young prostitute who bears the brunt of Man’s vile debauchery. Designer Mark Barton complements Man’s moods by lighting the scenes with various, often unpleasantly clashing combinations of hues
Camp's performance is astonishing as he energetically throws himself into the physically challenging almost two hours of non-stop dialogue, and takes us to the very core of Man and his secrets. Woodruff deftly directs him through a self loathing that makes Man wretch, flail and try to cleanse himself with constant wiping.
It’s not an easy show to watch, and in fact, a number of people got up and left early on, but if you can convince yourself to be a rubbernecker, Camp’s adroit achievement is well worth it.
---- Lauren Yarger
Notes from Underground plays at Yale Repertory Theater (1120 Chapel St., New Haven, CT) through April 11. Performances times are Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm with an audio-described matinee at 2pm on Saturday. Tickets are $35-$65 and can be purchased by calling 203-432-1234 or by visiting www.yalerep.org.
No feedback yet
|« ATW Review - 'Beowulf' / Rambo Solo - Action Adventure Dissected Onstage||ATW Digest - Durang's 'Why Torture Is Wrong...' opens - read the reviews »|