Justin Long and Josh Hamilton in An Intervention. Photo T Charles Erickson.

Mike Bartlett’s “An Intervention” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, closing August 23

British playwright Mike Bartlett’s fast-paced short play, An Intervention, closes with a black slapstick routine worthy of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. In the final scene, Character A, as she/he is called, brings out a ladder. Since we know A to be a troubled alcoholic, the conclusion we are meant to draw is obvious. A mounts the ladder experimentally, then retreats. Character B arrives. A scene ensues. A, fortified by tequila chugged straight from the bottle, mounts the ladder again. Lights flash in our faces, and a noose appears from nowhere. A puts it round her/his neck. B, remorseful, tries to stop his friend. The ladder topples and B is left holding A by the legs—a balancing act standing between A and death. The play closes as B sets his far-fetched and not-very-promising solution, A realizes that there will be no solution to his drinking problem, and the two reaffirm their mutual love, which has been so severely bruised over the past 45 minutes.

Lily Rabe, Josh Hamilton in A Doll's House at Williamstown Theatre Festival. PhotoT. Charles Erickson.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, Williamstown Theatre Festival, NIkos Stage, July 20 – 31

One more delicious and satisfying classic in the Nikos. Following the intimate character of A Streetcar Named Desire, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has served the playwright and the public most honorably in Sam Gold’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Like Streetcar, the production was meticulously detailed, scrupulously respectful of the play (whatever liberties might have been taken), and full of life, thanks to some vivid performances by outstanding actors. Jenny Gersten’s WTF seems to be hitting its stride in these physically small, but richly imagined performances, a new feature of the Festival since the construction of the “62 Center. Perhaps we should remember that what is now the subsidiary Nikos stage used to be the Adams Memorial Theater, and that an attempt to stage Chekhov’s Three Sisters on the Main Stage as a luxury production was a notable failure, not that there haven’t been some outstanding successes there as well.

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