Sunday, November 11, 2007

Crime and Punishment

Photo/Courtesy of Writers' Theatre

Dostoevsky's classic novel makes an excellent transition to the stage in this dramatically and psychologically focused retelling of Crime and Punishment. From Eugene Lee's cramped set to Keith Parham's floodlights of truth and repression to Michael Halberstam's tightly mirrored direction to the elegant and subtle acting, the Writers' Theatre isn't being cruel, nor unusual (but not easy either); just exactly the sort of ninety-minute sentence one hopes for. Trapped alone on stage as the very real ghosts of his lover/confessor Sonia (Susan Bennett) and genial pursuer Porfiry Petrovich (John Judd) spin in and out through doors, Raskolnikov (Scott Parkinson) turns to us (and an overwhelmingly large Jesus-on-the-cross) for forgiveness. In clearly extracted (yet contradictingly human) monologues, our soft-spoken murderer tries to talk himself out of sin, justifying his work as theoretical and extraordinary, but fails, at last coming to terms with his self-inflicted sickness as he tries to answer the simplest of questions: "Why?" For us, the answer is much easier: because this is a profound production, stretched a bit in the middle, sure, but a haunting tale all the same.

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