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.
$67-$120,                             
212-239-6200
www.anenemyofthepeoplebroadway.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…

Local

Newest java joint in bastion of hipness is…

Little may represent the change the neighborhood is undergoing right now like the arrival of the first Starbucks. The chain which is ubiquitous in Manhattan, opened a Williamsburg store at…

National

Black and white are the new orange at…

By Brendan O'Brien(Reuters) - Black and white are the new orange in a Michigan county where the sheriff has made a wardrobe change for jail…

National

Traps set after reports of giant snake on…

New Jersey animal control workers have set traps to snare a reported 20-foot-long serpent slithering through the waters of Lake Hopatcong.

Music

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks more accessible than Animal…

Believe it or not, Avey Tare — the man in the mustachioed mask pictured here in the pool of blood — may have made the poppiest music of his career.

Entertainment

‘The Leftovers’ recap: Season 1, Episode 4, ‘B.J.…

Last week’s episode of “The Leftovers” was apparently a fluke, because this week’s episode returns to focusing on the Garveys and it is so boring.…

Movies

Interview: Luc Besson says 'Lucy' is very different…

Filmmaker Luc Besson talks about his new film "Lucy," how it's different than "Limitless" and his crazy first conversation with Egyptian actor Amr Waked.

Music

Weezer releases first new song since 2010

Weezer releases "Back to the Shack," their first new song in almost six years.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony talks about his charity work in…

As he is used to doing every year, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is going to visit Puerto Rico to do work for his foundation.

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…

Tech

Ulises 1 is the world's first singing satellite

A group of artists and engineers in Mexico have unveiled Ulises 1, the world's first opera-singing satellite.

Home

Wallscape on a budget

Skip the wallpaper and ombre an accent wall instead.