Fringe Review: La Ronde (SC)

When the lights come up, don’t expect your date to be in the mood for love...

For anyone who’s ever given or received “the gift that keeps on giving” (i.e. an incurable sexually transmitted disease), Arthur Schnitzler’s now-classic play La Ronde may seem more like a series of public health skits than a story of ill-fated lovers locked into a cycle of lust, regret, and, ultimately, disappointment. To a many in the audience, however, these awkward love triangles of horny sons, coy au pairs, philandering husbands and bored housewives may feel as predictably close to reality TV and late night cable dramas as they are to our own misspent Saturday nights.

Thankfully, Norway’s Kompani Krapp is wise to the script’s challenges: they call it an “erotic black comedy” yet they play it without pretense. By taking the familiar—and often banal—beats of our misguided love lives and setting them to the seductive beat of a onstage DJ (whose Cheshire cat-like interactions with the actors intermittently charm), this solid group of actors is able to ground the piece in modern reality. Is it sexy? Not really. But that’s one message that this production most successfully delivers, especially in the scene between the male hustler Flirt (an endearingly comic Israel Corral Ina) and the Husband (a stolid Robert Rustad Amundsen): perhaps the most tragic thing about sexual relationships is how rarely they are actually sexy.

 So, the final verdict? This show’s worth checking out.  But when the lights come up, don’t expect your date to be in the mood for love.

 ––Sarah Chandler


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