La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club

66 East 4th Street
(btw Bowery & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Office: M–F 11a–6p
Box Office: M–Su 12–6p

The Past Isn’t Dead, It’s On Stage: The Kreutzer Sonata

by Ben Brantley, New York Times

Recollection and re-creations of times past are also an essential aspect of the Gate Theater’s production of “The Kreutzer Sonata,” which comes to La Mama E.T.C. in New York next month and is worth catching. Nancy Harris’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s once shocking novella, in which a man in a train car recalls what drove him to murder his wife, has a cast of three, though only one speaks.

That’s Hilton McRae as Pozdynyshev, who sustains a shivery sense of intimacy as both the narrator and protagonist of the story. The other performers are a pianist (Sophie Scott) and a violinist (Tobias Beer), who are heard and sometimes seen from behind a scrim, fading in and out of focus. Oh, and the pianist happens to be his wife, and the violinist the man he suspects is her lover.

What they are playing is the Beethoven sonata of the title, which embodies feelings, both dangerous and exalted, that Pozdynyshev can’t put into words. Directed by Natalie Abrahami, this production convincingly presents music not just as a mnemonic trigger but also as a poisonous catalyst to action.