Theater Review: Sight Unseen potent, fascinatingBy Jim LoweProvided photo
Linda Ianuzzi is Patricia and Hugh Davies is her husband Nick in the Waterbury Festival Playhouse production of “Sight Unseen.”
Jonathan Waxman, a ridiculously successful modern artist, is having an identity crisis.
So, in England for his debut European show, he visits his former lover and model Patricia, whom he had rudely rejected years ago — and only exacerbates the crisis.
Waterbury Festival Playhouse opened a taut and rewarding production of Donald Margulies’ fascinating 1991 character study, “Sight Unseen,” at its summer theater in Waterbury Center. The performance was riveting.
Since the recent death of his father, Jonathan feels totally lost. Despite a pregnant wife at home, he looks to his old girlfriend. His visit to her modest home wreaks havoc on her already tenuous marriage. Unfortunately, Jonathan is oblivious to any needs but his own.
Interspersed between those domestic scenes are parts of an art critic’s interview with Jonathan for a German magazine. The critic, Grete, suggests not only that Jonathan’s work might represent an accusatory Jewish point of view, but that his artistic motivation could be greed.
Jonathan flails and wallows in self-absorption, with no idea why — until the end.
The Waterbury Festival Playhouse production, a mix of professional and community actors expertly directed by Ethan Bowen, was simply excellent. Its focus and power matched many top professional productions seen this summer.
Seth Jarvis, a Burlington professional actor, delivered a stellar performance as the self-important Jonathan.
Jarvis successfully maintained Jonathan’s obliviousness, all the time making him a sympathetic, even fascinating character.
Linda Iannuzzi managed a fully dimensional performance as the torn and unhappy Patricia. Amazing was Hugh Davies’ ever-so-dry and humorous portrayal of husband Nick. Amanda Menard was charmingly tough, even caustic as the feisty art writer Grete. The ensemble was excellent throughout.
Waterbury’s physical production was adequate, but no match for the performance. In particular, the set was too literal to create any kind of atmosphere.
The Waterbury Festival Playhouse production of “Sight Unseen” proves that there is excellent theater outside Vermont’s usual professional companies. Friday’s performance was an evening of most rewarding dramatic theater.
Waterbury Festival Playhouse
Waterbury Festival Players present Donald Margulies’ “Sight Unseen” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7-9, 14-16 and 21-23 at 7:30 p.m. at Waterbury Festival Playhouse, 2933 Waterbury-Stowe Road in Waterbury Center. Tickets are $35, $30-$24 in advance; call 498-3755, or go online to www.WaterburyFestivalPlayhouse.com.MORE IN Central Vermont
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