Adapted by Marilyn Campbell & Curt Columbus
Directed by Richard Cotovsky
Produced by Mary-Arrchie Theatre
At Angel Island, Chicago
Haunting psychological thriller probes into the mind of insanity.
Director Richard Cotovsky delivers a cat and mouse game as Inspector Porfiry (Jack McCabe) hunts down a sac age killer who axed to death an old woman and her niece in 1866 Petersburg, Russia. Utilizing Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’ adaptation of the classic Dostoyevsky novel, this 95 minute one-act is a creepy, haunting mystery. Mary-Arrchie Theatre has another gem now gracing their Angel Island venue.
This three person drama is anchored by Ed Porter as the troubled young student, Rasholnikov, who wrote an article about crime and its consequences. He plots the robbery and murder of an unscrupulous old lady pawnbroker for her cash. Raskolnikov argues that with the pawnbroker’s money he can perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime, while ridding the world of a worthless people. He also commits this murder to test his own hypothesis that some people are naturally capable of such things, and even have the right to do them. Raskolnikov justifies his actions by comparing himself with Napoleon Bonaparte, believing that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose.
We see several sides of Raskolnikov including his disdain for money as he gives all the cash he has to aid a woman who has just lost her father. Raskolnikov is a troubled, psychologically flawed man whose moral outrage becomes confused with his views of the capability of the ‘chosen ones’ to resort to murder to further social change.
As the quickly unraveling Raskolnikov starts his verbal and psychological game with the unassuming policeman Porfiry, we see two smart and determined souls engaged in search for truth and motivation as justice must be served. We experience much with the two characters the journey toward the truth. Dreams, waking visions, even ghosts arrive as the portrait of the crime, as well as loads of guilt haunts Raskolnikov. Can retribution and justice ever be served?
While Jack McCabe is the subtle investigator who slowly yet thoroughly pursues Raskolnikov, Maureen Yasko plays the old woman, her niece and the street whore among others most effectively. She gives faces to Raskolnikov’s world.
Yet, the power and disturbing play is more about Raskolnikov’s internal struggles than justice. Ed Porter plays him as cold, apathetic, and antisocial; on the other, he can be surprisingly warm and compassionate. Porter marvelously shows his psychological deterioration as guilt seems to trump his world philosophy.
This 95 minute journey into insanity and investigative gamesmanship demonstrates Ed Porter’s deeply felt acting talents. He reaches down to Raskolnikov’s despair with enough truth that we feel is pain. Porter give one of the strongest performances I’ve seen this season on a Chicago stage.
At Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL, 773-871-0442, tickets $25, $20 student/seniors, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 95 minutes without intermission, through March 16, 2014