by Marcina Zaccaria
Three hours after confirmation that all Broadway theaters would be closed and Lincoln Center Pavillion would be shut, I traveled to Greenwich Village to attend a performance reserved a month in advance.
In a perfectly neat, black box theater in the lower level of 1 Sheridan Square, I attended Randy Sharp’s Washington Square, adapted from the Henry James Novel.
In Washington Square, it is questioned whether merit will outweigh a type of aristocratic leaning, almost immoral in an academic world surrounding Washington Square Park. Love, thwarted and rekindled, is so deeply entrenched in the thematic material that we anticipate that better variations will develop over time. A refined man, The Doctor, played by George Demas, is asked how to cope with his daughter’s tragic affections for Morris Townsend, played by Jon McCormick, a handsome figure who has to struggle with his respectable, though minimal holdings. Penniman, portrayed by Dee Pelletier, is often found sauntering, arranging meetings with Townsend, attempting to configure an appropriate set of circumstances for Catherine.
Finding a proper husband and a way of continuing is a persistent struggle for Britt Genelin, who plays Catherine. She is so desperately in love, yet aware of her position. Seated on the floor, with a small notebook, she attempts to process what becomes an endurance test of her emotion. Though so much is acquired in conversation, much more is lost in analysis. Isolated, alone in a room, she waits for better combinations of visits to present, however, so few do. Catherine feels that her $10,000 a year would be enough to continue forward, and honor her interest in making Morris Townsend a husband. The Doctor, perfectly grounded in his sense of prominence within the society and in his home, slowly finds the exchanges unsettling.
Meanwhile, Dee Pelletier as Penniman provides so much dimension. As she wickedly walks the Square, she hatches a plan to speak to Townsend and, perhaps, guide him away from Catherine. What might become a battle of the young and old becomes a more intricate web. Pelletier is conniving, yet she adds hints of comedy in the otherwise broody, intellectual world, hopping over boundaries and creating new gates of understanding.
Ethereal tracks of music by Paul Carbonara fill the silence between the sequences of events, within the world of Catherine and Morris. With carefully sculpted, orange glowing light designed by David Zeffren, it is a dark world where characters, terrifically dressed in period costumes designed by Karl Ruckdeschel, appear and disappear from view. Storytelling by Randy Sharp, who adapted and directed the play, is so clear as each beat and new bits of information are released like delicate morsels.
One of the most compelling moments in the show occurs when Catherine orders a wedding dress from Paris. She adores the freshly boxed gown, surrounded by her other belongings. Glorious pocket watches are revealed, as the script asks: can love be appreciated over time? What if Catherine never finds what she is seeking? Much happens over a 48 hour period, and the ending is a bit of surprise.
Photos: Pavel Antonov
Washington Square, presented by Axis Company, was originally scheduled through April 4. The previously scheduled month of performances have been suspended after the Saturday, March 14 performance. According to an official press release, “Axis is following the lead of city, state, and federal elected officials as well as the recommendations of the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Performances of Washington Square will resume in mid-May, pending the status of COVID-19.”