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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents "An Enemy of the People" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents "An Enemy of the People" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre


Manhattan Theatre Club
An Enemy of the People
(An Enemy of the People Website)

By Henrik Ibsen

A New Version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Lynn Meadow, Artistic Director
Barry Grove, Exec. Producer

Directed by Doug Hughes

At the
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street

Boyd Gaines, Richard Thomas
Maite Alina, Gerry Bamman, Kathleen McKenny
Randall Newsome, John Procaccino, Michael Siberry, James Waterston
Mike Boland, Victoria Frings, Andrew Hovelson
John Robert Tillotson, Ray Virta

Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design: Ben Stanton
Original Music & Sound Design: David Van Tieghem
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Fight Director: J. David Brimmer
Production Stage Manager: Winnie Y. Lok
General Manager: Florie Seery
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Artistic Producer: Mandy Greenfield
Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch
Director of Marketing: Debra Waxman-Pilla
Director of Development: Lynne Randall
Production Manager: Joshua Helman
Artistic Line Producer: Lisa McNulty
Director of Casting: Nancy Piccione

September 30, 2012

This propulsive 1882 Ibsen drama stars Boyd Gaines as Dr. Thomas Stockmann, a renowned physician and scientist in Southern Norway, along the coast. Stockmann eagerly gives tours of his upgraded home, thrilled to have a financial standing and security he has long sought. Kathleen McNenny, as his wife, Catherine, is nurturing and settled. An image of bliss enhances the opening scene. The town is known for its medicinal baths, and Stockmann is on its staff. But, slowly, the audience is drawn into high drama, as Stockmann, the idealistic intellectual, receives the lab results of tests on the spa waters, revealing a growing toxicity and danger to tourists and townspeople. Stockmann is deluded that the town will lift him in a parade for his unique discovery, lauding him as a hero, a savior. His delusion extends to the notion that the spa would be shut down for a year or more, while an entire new set of pipes can be designed and constructed, with Stockmann at the helm of the project.

In contrast, the Mayor of the town, Peter Stockmann, Thomas’ brother, a severe, studied, soft-spoken and tight-postured Richard Thomas, had ordered the original piping system, at probably thrifty cost and time. Peter does not receive Thomas’ news well, and the brothers begin their vocal pyrotechnics. It’s a quick study that the two have fought bitterly over the years, as one is a fiercely ambitious politician, while one is a fiercely ambitious scholar. Immediately, one can compare the brothers’ lengthy diatribes to current argument on the validity of climate change, the dangers of oil/gas drilling, chemicals in the waterways, and on and on. The 130 years that span the play’s setting to today’s similar discourse melt in moments. While Peter seethes with self-preservation and self-interest, Thomas seethes with altruism and his own self-interest. In many ways, the brothers are rooted in equal passion, and in many ways they branch to opposite obsessions. Mr. Gaines wildly performs with every fiber of his vein-popping neck, while Mr. Thomas steadily commands authority with his conservative coat and glaring persona. Together they rivet the eye and grip the stage.

Act II finds Thomas facing the town in a public hearing of increasing volume and condemnation. The outcries are all toward Thomas, as his demands for closing the spa and constructing new pipes threaten the very survival of hundreds of hard-working souls, who now name Thomas “an enemy of the people”. Even Thomas’ own wife fears for her home and hearth, while Peter fears for his standing as the “enemy’s brother”, as town mayor/town servant. Ms. McNenny creates an evolving Catherine, although her role loses attention in the verbal histrionics. Maite Alina is Petra Stockmann, Thomas’ daughter, an element in Thomas’ impending family implosion. John Procaccino takes on the role of Hovstad, who publishes town news and who evolves, as well, from true communicator to turncoat. Michael Siberry is Morten Kiil, Catherine’s father, who sees his daughter’s family in dreaded downfall. Captain Horster (Randall Newsome) hosts the town meeting, one that has actors entering and leaving the stage through the aisles. In fact, the audience is drawn in, erasing the fourth wall.

Doug Hughes has directed for force and fury, with scenes simplified to absorb the word-heavy tirades. John Lee Beatty’s set shifts from the upscale, late nineteenth century Stockmann abode to Horster’s rowdy, outdoor meeting space, uncluttered and unsettling. The play’s theme, of a solitary individual standing courageously against a maddening, impressionable crowd is transporting and quintessentially theatrical. Kudos to Manhattan Theatre Club, and kudos to Ibsen.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at