Loving this review from the Examiner!
'Norway' is spellbinding drama at its best
By Tom Alvarez
This Examiner Rates Norway "*****" (5 of 5 stars)
A co-world premiere with Boise Contemporary Theater,Norway, deals with such themes as fundamentalism, sexuality, friendship, predestination, family dynamics and others. Central to the play’s plot is one Beethoven’s iconic compositions which serves as an unlikely link in a story that is essentially a mystery.
Set initially in Lewiston, Idaho, Norway focuses on two Christian high school friends Brent and Andy who share confidences and become emotionally entangled. Later Brent becomes a teacher and travels from place to place, lecturing and playing reinventions of Beethoven’s “Pathétique” at different colleges, unaware that he is being followed by Andy. Taking place over a ten year period, the play also centers on the obsessive behavior of Andy's father who wants answers from Brent, following his son’s untimely death.
Superbly directed by Gordon McCall, this outstanding production, (viewed this past Sunday during a matinee performance), is an ideal showcase for the prodigious talents of three first-rate actors. They are Scot Greenwell who plays Brent, Matthew Goodrich as Andy, and Daniel Scharbrough who plays the role of Andy’s father, Mark.
Greenwell was effective in his depiction a self assured young man yearning for creative fulfillment, while coming to terms with his sexual identity. He was also equally believable as a somewhat embittered adult whose professional life has turned out to be much less that what he planned. The versatile Greenwell’s ability to switch back and forth between past and present in his characterization was skillful.
Playing a character torn between his rigid, fundamentalist upbringing and a desire to escape conventionality and constriction, Goodrich gave a penetrating performance that was nuanced and multi-faceted. Particularly notable was an infusion of mannerisms and speech patterns is his characterization of the adolescent Andy, that perfectly matched his best friend Brent’s (who has a crush on him) description of him as “adorable.” Also impressive was the emotional depth and intensity Goodrich brought to his role.
Completing this trio of fine performers was Scharbrough. His compelling portrayal of über conservative and authoritarian Mark, seeking to control his rebellious son and later intimidate and terrorize Brent, was powerful and sometimes shocking.
Also worthy of special mention is Nolan Brokamp’s efficient lighting design and James Gross’ pragmatic set which features a star field, white grand piano, car seat and other pieces that suggest various locations. Titles identifying cities and towns where the play’s action takes place are projected and also incorporated into the set design. It’s an ideal combination of production elements suitable for this presentation in the intimate 75-seat, cabaret-style black box theater.
Ultimately though, the main attraction in Norway is Hunter’s meaningful, unpredictable, marvelously constructed script, with its true-to-the-ear dialogue. So much so, that this riveting, ninety plus minute drama (with no intermission) seemed to fly by, leaving this reviewer yearning for more.
For more information about Norway or to purchase tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 317.635.7529. Tickets may also be purchased online. The theatre’s website is www.phoenixtheatre.org.
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