The Lonely Way
Mint Theater Company
Jonathan Bank, Artistic Director
311 West 43rd Street
NY, NY 10036
Written by Arthur Schnitzler
(Arthur Schnitzler Bio)
Translated by Margret Schaefer and Jonathan Bank
Eric Alperin as Felix Wegrat, Constance Tarbox as Johanna Wegrat, Jordan Lage as Stephan Von Sala,
John Leonard Thompson as Dr. Franz Reumann,
Sherry Skinker as Gabriele Wegrat,
George Morfogen as Professor Wegrat,
Ronald Guttman as Julian Fichtner, Lisa Bostnar as Irene Herms, Bennet Leak as Valet
Directed by Jonathan Bank
Scenery: Vicki R. Davis
Furniture: Frank Gehry
Costumes: Henry Shaffer
Lighting: Ben Stanton
Sound: Jane Shaw
Props: Judi Guralnick
Casting: Sharon Bower
Graphics: Jude Dvorak
Assistant Stage Manager: Dawn Dunlop
Press: David Gersten & Associates
Production Stage Manager: Samone B. Weissman
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 15, 2005
Arthur Schnitzler, an Austrian playwright, who happened to be Jewish and who happened to be censored by the Austrian monarchy and later posthumously by the Nazis, is that rare artist, who sees beneath the surface of human behavior and words, and whose works we have rarely seen or explored. I remember admiring La Ronde in its various incarnations, be it ballet, theatre, or film. The Lonely Way is now in its very first New York production since it was written, 101 years ago, and it should be seen quickly, while it is still in performances at the Off-Broadway Mint Theater.
The Lonely Way, is staged with Frank Gehry’s silvery, sleek garden stools, a silvery, contorted series of branches with changeable lighting and frame, a screen of impressionistic trees on a winding path, a garden and pool (in dim, dark, dramatic imagery), and doorways and drapes that seem to lead to isolation and alienation.
The people, who inhabit these sets are: Julian Fichtner, an artist of no import, who has wandered the globe and come home to see his son, who is unaware of his real roots; Julian’s secret son, Felix Wegrat, a military and adventurous, conscience-driven young man; Gabrielle Wegrat, Felix’ mother, who dies with her long hidden secret; Johanna Wegrat, Felix’ sister, who harbors an unfulfilled infatuation for Stephan Von Sala; Stephan, who is infatuated with himself and unaware of his own date with mortality; Professor Wegrat, Johanna’s father, Gabrielle’s husband, and the only father Felix has known, who loves his family and friend (Julian) selflessly and generously, with bent posture and few expectations; Irene Herms, who loved Julian, prior to his escape down the forked road to freedom from responsibility and relationships, and now faces a piercing revelation; and Dr. Franz Reumann, Gabrielle’s kind physician, plus a Valet.
There are poetic passages in The Lonely Way, too beautiful to hear only once, and I intend to see this production again, if only to focus on the eloquence and elegance of Schnitzler’s language, as translated by Margret Schaefer and Jonathan Bank. There are psychological meanings and underlying longings, chest-pounding guilt and selfish callousness, unrequited love and everlasting love, maternal desires and paternal angst, death beyond control and death by intention, obvious illness and hidden illness, career fulfillment and career disappointment, and, all the while, these thematic paths take the characters toward their ultimate reflections, analyses, sorrow, and destiny. Ben Stanton’s lighting, Vicki Davis’ sets, Frank Gehry’s furniture, Jane Shaw’s choice of music and sound, and Henry Shaffer’s costumes are all intrinsic to the unfolding of the onstage eloquence and drama.
What a refreshing experience to enjoy such sophisticated and intimate theater by a professionally prepared cast, a performance so disarming and understated. There should be more of Schnitzler’s works seen and heard these days, as his profound understanding of human needs and layered personality cuts through so much of the current cultural dialogues. The Lonely Way should be exprienced once for the story and staging and again for the poetic and poignant dialogue. The Lonely Way has been fortunately extended at Mint Theater Company until May 1st.