By Sandi Durell
Axis Theatre in Greenwich Village is the tiny theater where Randy Sharp is directing a far reaching adaptation of the very familiar 1952 western that stars Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly – High Noon.
The eerie almost white background with only a bar and small platform (by Chad Yarborough) sets the stage for this tension filled 65 minute story where all the characters are dressed in black and dark grays immediately creating a sense of foreboding – something’s about to happen and it can’t be good!
Taking a step back in time to the Wild West, the town awaits the noon train and a killer, Guy Jordan. The Marshall Will Barnon (Brian Barnhart) has just married Alice, a Quaker (Katie Rose Summerfield) and is also responsible for putting this killer away in prison. With her bouquet of baby’s breath in hand, Alice anxiously begs her new husband to leave town with her, as Marshal Barnon, about to retire, rethinks his duty and decides he must remain. The Town folk resent Will and have their own take on the arrival of the killer – maybe the economy will grow once Jordan takes charge what with all that illegal money coming with him. The bartender Henry (Phil Gillen) surely believes this will be the case. But does the community want a criminal? Maybe so. . . the crux of this abstract, fantasy-like production examines right and wrong and how and why a spec on the map of a community would want a criminal in their midst. Its political overtones regarding authority are rampant.
The somber cast moves in tandem some of the time, as pocket watches open and close, as they stare in one direction; severe deadpan delivery provides the emotional buttress to a constant feeling of suspicion and waiting, waiting for something to happen…
The awkward young brother Check Jordan (Nicholas McGovern) is unnerving; while the saloon gal Helen (Britt Genelin), reveals a long story and history, as she readies to leave the town. But it’s scared, frightened Judge Mettrick (Spencer Aste) who is the most ominous.
The scary lighting effects are by David Zeffren, and costumes by Karl Ruckdeschel. Notable is Paul Carbonara’s sound design with rushing wind as tensions continue to mount.
Photos: Pavel Antonov
High Noon – Axis Theatre – 1 Sheridan Square, NYC – www.axiscompany.org thru October 27