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Paulanne Simmons

Another look at Madame Bovary

“Madame Bovary”
Adapted and directed by Katherine M. Carter
3LD Art & Technology Center
80 Greenwich Street at Rector
Dec. 7 - Dec. 11 at 7:30pm, Dec. 10 & 11 at 2pm, Dec. 12 at noon
Tickets: $15 BrownPaperTickets.com
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Dec. 9, 2011

Gustave Flaubert’s 1856 masterpiece, “Madame Bovary,” is considered the archetypical account of an adulterous woman who self-destructs. It tells the story of the wife of physician Charles Bovary, the bored provincial Emma Bovary, who commits suicide after several affairs and spending sprees that bankrupt the family.

Not surprisingly, this dramatic tale has been adapted for both stage and film several times. Nor should we be surprised that The Other Mirror, an emerging theatrical company that “looks at those who have been judged and puts them back on trial for our society to interact with in a new light,” should have embraced Flaubert’s infamous adulteress.

Adapted and directed by Katherine M. Carter, “Madame Bovary” is a spare production, one suspects more out of necessity than artistic inclination. Nevertheless, Carter makes effective use of gauzy white curtains, projections and piano music to create space and mood. And costume designer Caitlin Cisek has provided time-appropriate dress. But the production’s main asset is the excellent acting of a primarily youthful cast.

Amy Young executes Madame Bovary’s journey from innocent newlywed to cunning mistress with both passion and restraint. What’s more, she never succumbs to the temptation of bringing the flawed heroine into the 21st century, where she clearly does not belong.

Brad Thomason is kind, clueless and pompous as the Charles Bovary, the upright country physician. Although the production leaves it to the imagination, one can easily see him crying over the dead body of the faithless wife who has dishonored him.

If there is a tendency to overact given the melodramatic nature of the material, even the villains, Sam Dash as L’Herueux and Logan James Hall as Rodolphe, and the spineless Leon (James Parenti), come off as despicable in a very human way.

The Other Mirror is the kind of theatrical company that is the lifeblood of contemporary theater. It’s young, energetic, creative and fearless, with none of the excesses that make theater irrelevant.

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