Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Review: GINT

By Toby Zinman

Review: GINT

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By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

So I go to my bookshelf to find Ibsen's Peer Gynt, and discover that I do indeed have a copy—but it's in Norwegian, a souvenir bought in a little shop in a little town high up in the mountains of Norway. A fat lot of good that will do me.  Should I go to the bookstore? To the library? To Gutenberg.org? But no: I decide to see EgoPo's production of Gint (the Americanized title in Romulus Linney's adaptation) as if it were a new work, and just let this famous (but unread!) play reveal itself to me onstage.

What an excellent decision that was!

What was revealed onstage was an astonishing fable, a surreal parable, a theatrical tour de force. Director Lane Savadove imaginatively wrestled this rarely-produced bear of a play to the ground (the original runs five hours, this version less than half that), and he has elicited remarkable performances from a fine cast, bravely led by Sean Lally in the title role.

It begins in Appalachia, with a great harmonizing songfest as the assembled cast plays guitars and a ukulele, a tambourine, a harmonica and a drum. They will transform themselves into various characters, mostly vicious, as well as cats, lunatics in an asylum and a forest of talking trees.

Pete Gint is a swaggering country boy who is a "randy fool," raised by his Oldie Mama (Melanie Julian) to be a fantasist as they imagine a life of wealth and grandeur as an escape from their poverty.  After seducing a local bride (Lee Minora) and then deserting her, Gint falls in love with Sally Vicks (Isa St. Clair), and then abandons her to go off on a serious of adventures. He  descends into a hellish kingdom (ruled by Griffin Stanton-Ameisen) of razorback hogs played by Cindy Spitko, Sarah Schol, Johnny Smith and Ed Swidey, who then morph into characters after characters as Gint travels along on his metaphoric journey.

The journey is not just one of self-discovery but also an environmental  cautionary tale, as if  Al Gore had collaborated with Ibsen—two finger-shakers to be reckoned with. 

The clever set designed by Dirk Durossette, and lit by Matt Sharp, provides first a wooden hut, a pool, a lawn, a graveyard, and, finally, a hill Gint climbs for the last sunrise.  

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EgoPo Classic Theater at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St. Through May 11. Tickets $22-35. Information: 267-273-1414 or egopo.org

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About this blog
Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer. She also is a contributing writer for Variety and American Theatre magazine. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of four books about four playwrights (Rabe, McNally, Miller, Albee), and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). Her 'weekend' job as a travel writer provides adventure: dogsledding in the Yukon, ziplining in Belize, walking coast-to-coast across England, and cowboying in the Australian Outback.


Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.


Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.


Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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