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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review: Ibsen's 'An Enemy of the People'- Randall Duk Kim gives master class level performance at CSC




L-R: Michael Irvin Pollard, Randall Duk Kim, Colleen Smith-Wallnau & Dominick Lusadi

In the decade that we have been reviewing both professional and community theater in New Jersey, we have consistently been reminded of the exceptional level of theater talent in our area. Several superior plays and performances that immediately come to mind are the George Street Playhouse production of 12 Angry Men, Chatham Playhouse’s Glengary Glen Ross with Michael King and David Cantor, Gloria Lamouruex in Shirley Valentine at the Chester Theatre Group, Katrina Ferguson as Maria Callas in Barbara Krajkowski’s Master Class, Colleen Smith-Wallnau in CSC’s recent presentation of The Last Apple Pie, and Liz Zazzi in anything she does. Oops, add Dale Monroe, Lynn Hart , Kevern Cameron and Chip Prestera to this list.

Ok, where is this leading? This past weekend the Centenary Stage Company premiered director’s Anne Occhiogrosso and Randall Duk Kim’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s classic An Enemy of the People, translated by John Alan Wyatt. 

Here is my one-word review…. WOW!


Randall Duk Kim and David Cantor
The play has a sensational cast led by Randall Duk Kim and David Cantor. All actors, aspiring actors, theater majors, or just plain theater lovers-this a master class in acting. The cost of the class is simply the price of a ticket. Randall Duk Kim is as fine an actor you will ever see. He plays the lead role of Dr. Stockmann, the idealist who becomes the “enemy of the people.”

David Cantor, never better, is the doctor’s elder brother and mayor. With his hat and cane, symbols of his exalted position, he leads the opposition against his own brother. The plot, no, not here except to say it concerns the doctor’s discovery that the town’s water supply is contaminated. The town is a tourist attraction because of the quality of its water, simply put-bad water equals-no tourists-equals no money.

The supporting cast is spot-on, led by Colleen Smith-Wallnau as Stockmanns loyal wife, at least in the powerful second act; David Sitler is Morten Kill, Dr. Stockmann’s foster-father and owner of the tannery; Michael Gabriel Goodfriend is the editor of the newspaper Hovstad, an early supporter of the doctor; Nick Bettens is Billing, a member of the paper’s staff; Michael Irvin Pollard as the printer Aslaksen (outstanding performances are the norm for Pollard); Chris Kolwicz is the Ship’s Captain, Stockmann’s faithful friend.

Playing Stockmann’s children are Brianna Morris as daughter Petra; Dominick Lusardi as older son Ejlif; and Finley Vaniman as young Morten.

The directors (husband and wife) offer these observations of the relevance of this 1882 play today: “Inexperienced leadership, governance of the super rich whose expertise rests in profit not people, a crumbling political system….gender inequality…..fear of anyone different from ourselves” and possibly the most dangerous….”an uniformed public.” In other words, how little has changed in all these years.

This is a remarkable play with equally remarkable performances. Your post play conversation will last long after the drive home. Again, see this production, if only for the ”master class” performance of Randall Duk Kim.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio Feb. 17, 2019

Centenary Stage Company’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, will run through March 3 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center, Hackettstown, New Jersey. This production marks the culmination of the 2018 Gates Ferry Lecture Series: “What is Truth?”

To purchase tickets, call the Centenary Stage Company box office at (908) 979 0900 or visit centenarystageco.org.


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