Presented by and at the Mint Theater Company, casting by Sharron Bower, 311 W. 43 St., NYC, Feb. 13-May 1.
The Mint Theater continues its mission of presenting neglected plays by major writers with the New York premiere of Arthur Schnitzler's tragedy "The Lonely Way," written in 1904. As seen in a new translation by Margret Schaefer and Jonathan Bank, it plays as if it were a collaboration between a cynical Strindberg and a paradoxical Pirandello. Unfortunately, Bank's production only proves the play to be stilted and dated.
Bank has made several debatable directorial choices: The contemporary costumes and abstract set by Vicki R. Davis and the futurist furniture by architect Frank Gehry clash with the 1904 references and long Freudian explanations of everyone's actions. At its worst, "The Lonely Way" plays like soap opera. At its best, it is a Freudian investigation into the hedonistic personality.
Young officer Felix Wegrat returns home to his dying mother not knowing that a family friend, the once promising artist Julian Fichtner, is really his father. While successful neighboring playwright Stephan von Sala toys with the affections of Wegrat's sister, Johanna, Fichtner gets ready to tell the young officer the truth about his parentage in order to rediscover artistic inspiration. Neither von Sala nor Fichtner realizes that tragedy will result from his actions.
As Fichtner, Ronald Guttman uses a European style of acting, while Jordan Lage's von Sala makes use of a debonair touch at all times. Lisa Bostnar's retired stage star, Irene Herms, is deliciously actressy. As Wegrat, Eric Alperin is entirely realistic, while Constance Tarbox plays his sister like a young Electra. George Morfogen as their professor father sounds like the voice of doom even before his wife's death. Sherry Skinker is almost too elegant as the dying mother, while John Leonard Thompson as her doctor is always ironic and cynical. Henry Shaffer's magnificent outfits for the women seem to suggest an earlier era.