A new production of Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People opens tonight at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The play stars two of Broadway’s most reliable actors, Tony Award winner Boyd Gaines (The Columnist, Driving Miss Daisy, Gypsy, Contact) and Richard Thomas (Race and Democracy on Broadway, TV’s The Waltons).
The 1882 play concerns Dr. Thomas Stockmann, who discovers that the community spa is contaminated and publishes his findings. But he is surprised to find that his neighbors are actually upset with him for revealing the pollution, given that the spa is their town’s main source of income. At that point, Dr. Stockmann has to choose whether to defend the truth or retract his statement.
Directed by Doug Hughes (Doubt, A Man For All Seasons), this version of An Enemy of the People has had more pre-opening buzz that your average revival of a late 19th century classic. Unlike many of the non-profit revivals of older dramas that play it safe with fairly traditional renderings, this production is taking the unusual approach of teasing out the more humorous aspects of the play. Audience reaction to Hughes’ directorial take (which is based on an adaptation by Rebecca Lenkiewicz) has been mixed. Soon the critics will weigh in and give their final verdicts.