By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
The parallels with The Baltimore Waltz are many. Before the siblings leave for Europe, Carl calls Harry Lime. On his arrival in Vienna, he encounters an oldster who explains in garbled English-German and with many a spluttered "sshplat!" that Harry Lime was run over by a car. Needless to say, there's also a scene with a Ferris wheel, but this one ends in an unexpected and inexplicably satisfying moment of pure Lewis Carroll fantasy.
Europe represents mystery; Europe represents death. The Third Man was shot in the rubble of a divided and destroyed Vienna; in scene after scene, a zither plays bouncily, emptily over a cityscape shadowy as the moon. In the play, however, it's a Viennese waltz that summons Vogel's brother back from the dead.
Christopher Tabb's direction is swift and skilled, though he might have given more thought and time to the play's final moments. Stage and lighting designer Richard Pegg (also the company's artistic director) performs wonders with suitcases and makes a virtue of the building's limitations.
All of the actors are strong. As Anna, Theresa Reid can be immensely funny, but she's also called on to carry the emotional burden of the play. Her voice, sad or thoughtful, often brings the action back from the brink of chaos. Danica Kneebone and Benjamin Toro play everyone Carl and Anna encounter, Kneebone bringing an effervescent energy to all of her roles. In weaker company, Toro would be a complete scene-stealer. He hurls himself into his parts with crazed exuberance, floating an array of unstable and outrageous accents. As the Dutch boy, for instance, he swings wildly between nationalities, sounding sometimes like an Indian, sometimes like an Ingmar Bergman character and sometimes like Peter Sellers on speed. The only problem is that he occasionally gets so carried away we lose Vogel's words.
Frederick D. Katona is a quietly affable Carl -- an omnipresent but sometimes almost invisible figure, as if he existed in the other characters' imaginations. This seems appropriate. We carry our dead with us always, but they have a way of remaining stubbornly out of focus.