November 2, 2006
Crime and Punishment, Ninth Wave, Town Hall Studio
By Charlie McBride
Ninth Wave Theatre Company are currently in the Town Hall Studio with their staging of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. While it is an inventive, well-acted adaptation it cannot be deemed a complete success.
Director/adaptor Kelly Colleen McMahon drastically pares down Dostoyevsky's text, tightening the focus to concentrate almost exclusively on the novel's principal character Raskolnikov (Patrick Curley). Her adaptation picks up the story after he has carried out the double murder of the aged pawnbroker and her young sister and is lying sick and fevered in his bed.
The details of the murder are rendered via a recorded whispered conversation but because we have to strain to hear this means that key plot information is, essentially, muffled. Also, by focusing on the 'punishment' half of the novel, and stripping back the narrative, we end up having to watch a lot of Raskolnikov wallowing in existential angst, which can be somewhat wearing - despite Curley's talent.
As well as playing Raskolnikov, Curley takes on a number of other roles which, in a clever touch, are done through video projection, the characters beamed onto the studio wall and engaging in dialogue with Raskolnikov.
Director McMahon has previously shown herself to be a resourceful utiliser of theatrical space and here again she skillfully makes the most of the Town Hall studio to evoke Raskolnikov's cramped St. Petersburg dwelling. The only other actor in her production is Neassa Walsh, who capably portrays Sonia the prostitute with whom Raskolnikov falls in love.
Overall, however, we are left with the feeling that, in ditching so much of the novel to get it down to 70 minutes of stage time, McMahon has perhaps thrown out the baby with the bath-water.