Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review of Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment. Quite a provocative play to watch on Valentine’s Day - full of pride…..angst…..regret…..and shame. Dostoevsky’s novel set in St. Petersburg in the late 1800’s amidst a scorching summer reminds me of the Langston Hughes Poem, Dream Deferred - What happens to a dream deferred??…..Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?....Does it fester like a sore…then run??

The scene opened with the spotlight creating an intense gaze from the portrait on the wall…..looking down on Raskoinikov prostrate on the floor. He is in white rags…..spent….hopeless…angry. A man flings the door open and demands, “Do you believe in God….Do you believe in Lazarus rising from the grave??” Raskoinikov retorts, “Does it even matter?”

From that moment, we were funneled into the story of a young man who believed certain individuals had a right to commit lawless acts if the greater good was served…..yet wallowing in anguish for the crimes he committed. That duality of mind and spirit…..of truth and Truth……of believing God was in control and of believing man was in control propelled the story deeper and deeper until the emotions….the questions….the choosing between the “greater good” and an individual’s rights came to a head…..found a balance of sorts….or at least a balance of neither “side” being perfect. At the end, all I could do was look at my date and say, “Wow.”

This was the first time I had seen a play at the cozy Upperstage Theater. Walking in, I was momentarily taken aback with how close we were to the stage - the theater seating surrounded the stage on three sides. It was small….cozy….much like a community theater in size. However, once the play started, it was apparent that this was the same caliber as the productions on the main stage - with great detail taken with the movement, lighting and sounds in the production.

The production of Crime and Punishment was a bit “different” as there were only three actors in this complex story. The Director, John Green, created an engaging story with pauses in the character movements, onstage costume modifications, and props to reflect changes in characters. Most notable were the character changes of Jennie McKnight as Sonia, a young woman forced into prostitution by poverty; Alyona an unscrupulous pawn broker who preys on the poor conditions of others; and Lizaveta, the sweet and kind sister of Alyona who is oppressed under her sister’s unreasonable commands. The changes were seamless…..and quite believable. Never once did I think of her as the “other” character.

The play ended as it began, with Raskoinikov prostrate on the floor….being asked, “Do you believe in God…Do you believe in Lazarus who rose from the grave.” To which he replies, “Does it matter?” Sonia’s reply still gives me pause…..”It might.”

As I sat in the chair next to my Valentine date, I was suddenly glad he read the book in college and understood the inner and outer struggles of the characters…and that he didn’t think I was crazy to bring him to see Crime and Punishment on a day full of flowers and promises…..but then again…..I am a complex being…..and was being true to form…


steph said...

This post is undeniably beautifully crafted. And I see no oddity in taking in Crime and Punishment on V-Day!

Becky P said...

Why thank you, Steph! It did make for great conversation for the rest of the afternoon....