Saved by the Actors

If Tom and Kyra's affair never seems authentic, it's because the characters are barely defined beyond their usefulness as representatives of political extremes. They have no quirks, no inconsistencies in their philosophies that make them seem human. They are, rather, imperfect clones of characters who walk through other Hare texts, dividing up the universe into male/female, rich/poor, Tory/Labor hemispheres.

That's not to say that Kyra and Tom's interaction is without charm. Adler's direction of actors Roza and Rogerson is forceful and appealing. The fluid production develops like a stew at low simmer. The concoction boils over when, in mid-spat, Kyra angrily replies to Tom's entreaty that she behave differently by insisting: "No, I want you to change." Tom's long silence, which the director choreographs quite effectively, gives new meaning to dumbfounded. Rogerson in particular offers an authoritative, spellbinding performance. (Nick Bixby, who plays Tom's son, is onstage only fleetingly, but I look forward to seeing any member of this cast again.)

Moreover the show is designed with quite a bit of thoughtfulness, from Daniela Schwimmer's well-appointed costumes and Jeff Quinn's effective lighting design, to Lyle Baskin's expressionistic set that seems inspired by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari yet is somehow not out of place in contemporary London. Credit Baskin and Adler also for creating an atmosphere in which the lack of heat in Kyra's apartment spills out into the audience: At times we're nearly as uncomfortable as she is.

Less enticing, however, is the rest of the GableStage season, which suggests a much tamer Joseph Adler at work than the one who directed Skylight. The Hare drama is to be followed by the stage adaptation of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, which is nothing if not a chestnut. The season ends with John Patrick Shanley's second-rate Psychopathia Sexualis. Full Gallop, the Mark Hampton-Mary Louise Wilson study of Diana Vreeland, and the third show on the schedule, is only slightly less musty than the shows before and after it.

Adler told the Miami Herald he wanted GableStage to be "more Lincoln Center than Lincoln Road." Here's hoping he can ultimately be more provocative in his programming than either of those venues.

Written by David Hare.
Directed by Joseph Adler. With Bob Rogerson, Pamela Roza, and Nick Bixby. Through February 21. GableStage at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables; 305-445-1119.

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