Fyodor Dostoyevsky's seminal profile of a killer with a superman complex and a moral imperative to dispose of a miserly old pawn broker, who's death would ease the plight of others, gets boiled down to a lean and surprisingly effective 90-minute drama in Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus' adaptation. It employs only three actors portraying multiple roles. Set in 19th century Saint Petersburg, Russia, the play condenses Dostoyevsky's theology, philosophy and pscho-drama into a kind of dream, with riveting performances by Ben Hunter, as the killer, Raskolnikov; Suzanne Friedline as the prostitute, Sonia, with no alternative means to feed her family; and Paul Witten's wry detective, Porfiry, whose interrogations form the drama's spine, fleshed out by other characters, by flashbacks and meditations. Ken Sawyer's staging is at time gorgeous, with Jeremy Pivnick's back lighting of the ghostly figures, and Sawyer's own sound design that amps up the melodrama. The main drawback is that Sawyer succumbs to the Hollywood blur of not knowing the difference between a work of theatre and of cinema. Music played against entire scenes (composed by Tom Tykwer,Johnny Klimerand Reinhold Heil from the the movie Perfume – The Story of a Murderer (used with permission) creates atmosphere with such moody imposition, it trivializes whatever theatricality the actors have worked to hard to muster. The theater has an austere power of ideas and language, and Sawyer simply doesn't trust it.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Starts: Feb. 29. Continues through March 15, 2008

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