Theater review: An ‘Enemy’ that’s easily taken on

Boyd Gaines, left, and Richard Thomas star in “An Enemy of the People.”

If you’ve never quite seen the appeal of Henrik Ibsen, that shouldn’t keep you from trying “An Enemy of the People,” his 1882 drama that’s made more palatable to modern audiences by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and now onstage at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

The story follows a Norwegian scientist who discovers that the town’s baths, its main source of income, are poisonous. In his quest to spread the word, he runs up against political powers with counterintuitive interests — and truth-telling becomes a task that threatens not only his reputation, but his family and friends as well.

Although it would have been easily stunt-casted, this production doesn’t hedge on a star-studded roster. The actors are all onstage to do a job — to deliver a message — and they get it done with seamless uniformity. And don’t expect showy special effects that might detract from that agenda, either. Smoothly rotating set pieces offer a handful of minimalist tableaus for the home, offices and meetinghouse where this play takes place. The only downside is an insensible sheer curtain that wafts across the stage between scenes as if someone thought it a convenient chance to air-dry his bedsheets. At one point, the cast directly addresses the audience as if its members are the play’s townspeople. Is this director Doug Hughe’s war cry for us to sit up and pay attention? It’s unnecessary, as a majority of the two-hour run time is spent hollering an already heavy-handed script.

Yes, this play literally bellows out bias toward its underdogs; it’s like we aren’t trusted to form our own thoughts. Isn’t that precisely what the text is asking us to do? But that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable evening of theater, mostly for its rousing message and exciting family conflict that pits wife against husband, brother against brother. Regardless of who’s right or wrong in the end, the lingering message about the fearsomeness of mob mentality will make you think twice the next time a controversial idea has the masses clutching their pearls — or their pitchforks.

If you go

‘An Enemy of the People’
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 W. 47th St.


Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.


Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.


Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…


U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…


Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.


Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…


Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.


Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.


Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…


Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…