Sunday, February 08, 2009

Electrifying Trial

Not Enough Air
by Masha Obolensky

Masha Obolensky's new historical drama,
Not Enough Air, is the story of Sophie Treadwell, her play Machinal, and its source in the 1927 trial of Ruth Snyder for her husband's murder. Obolensky uses all the disparate, fascinating threads of her subject, from Treadwell's "neurasthenia" to her complicated but congenial marriage and her troubled relationship with her father, and weaves them together to create a great play. As directed by Nick Bowling it is presented as a expressionistic drama with feminist overtones. The resulting production conveys the similarities between the vastly different characters of Treadwell, Snyder, and the protagonist of Machinal, the Young Woman. It is most effective in presenting the act of creation and the best moments of the evening occur as Treadwell (brilliantly portrayed by Janet Ulrich Brooks) is intently attempting to understand the personality of the young bride-murderess Ruth Snyder (portrayed by Danica Ivancevic). These moments occurring early in the first act and mirrored in the second were as powerful as anything I have seen in recent memory. David Parkes was convincing as Sophie's husband, communicating the changes in their relationship; while the set design by Brian Sidney Bembridge was efficient in the best sense. This was a drama with both emotional power and ideas to keep the audience thinking for long after the play has ended. Nick Bowling's world premiere at TimeLine Theatre Company boasts impeccable performances with impressive, ingenious design and staging.

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