by Paula Citron
Soulpepper’s production of Ibsen’s penultimate play John Gabriel Borkman is an acting disaster. This is unfortunate because the play has relevance for today in light of Enron and Conrad Black. Borkman has embezzled millions from his bank and has no remorse because he is “an exceptional man”.
Director Leah Cherniak of Theatre Columbus begins with an interesting idea. In her vision, three cross-gender actors play all the parts, and characters are indicated by puppets. Cherniak’s aim is obviously to get to the emotional heart of play by how the puppets are manipulated.
To pull this off you need three outstanding actors. If there is a worse performance this season than actor Martha Ross’, I can’t imagine. Michael Simpson, usually a character actor, is a mediocre leading man. This leaves poor Nancy Palk acting for three.
Victoria Wallace’s imaginative set and costumes come to mean nothing in light of the dismal performances.
John Gabriel Borkman continues until Apr. 21.
From the Young Centre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.