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"North" at 59E59 Theater B

“North” at 59E59 Theater B
Conceived by Christina Ritter and Jennifer Schlueter
Written and Directed by Jennifer Schlueter
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Now playing at 59E59 Theater B, Jennifer Schlueter’s “North” fictionalizes an historical event: the brief meeting between Anne Morrow Lindberg and Antoine de Saint-Exupery in New York City at the Ritz Hotel on August 5, 1939. In the drama, after meeting Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Anne Morrow Lindbergh reflects on her intense emotional response to the meeting by asking herself, “Are you going to look back all your life to an hour’s conversation with a stranger?” Like Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour,” “North” deals with the hour-long “story of a woman’s life and ordeal.”

Hearing of her husband’s death, the fictional Louise Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” reflects for one hour on the various roles she played as a wife and how playing those roles prevented her from finding her true self. After spending the hour with St-Ex, Anne reflects on how the vicissitudes of her life equally prevented her from fully understanding who she is as a person and a creative entity. Deferring to her husband and children and the loyalties they demand has blocked her own identity formation. She is, as St-Ex explains, suffering from Zerrissenheit, from being “torn to pieces.” As wife and mother competing with writer and aviator, Anne is not fulfilled as a person. Her story, inspired by the sprit-awakening encounter with St Ex, is in her words the story of “any woman, any ordeal.”

Director Jennifer Schlueter and choreographer Karen Mozingo have brilliantly staged “North” with the support of scenic designer Brad Steinmetz and lighting designer Anjeannette Stokes. As a creative team, they create the timeless space through which the lives of Anne, St-Ex, Charles, and their individual and collective memories move. Christina Ritter (Anne), Christopher Marlowe Roche (St-Ex), and Kalafatic Poole (Charles) portray Anne’s journey, her dance, the movement and balance through her life with flawless perfection. The three swings, the ladder, and the writing table are convincing tropes for the journeys of the three characters as they move in and out of the present, in and out of emotions, in and out of scenes.

In the end, all who know they are “torn to pieces” will profoundly identify with “North.” Those of us suffering from Zerrissenheit know that we must not be hesitant about dealing with that “illness.” We learn, as Anne learns, that “a little too late and all is lost.” Failing to achieve the sainthood of a creative and contemplative life, Anne realizes ultimately that she has not been able to do the things St-Ex believed she could achieve. Christina Ritter’s powerful soliloquy at the end of “North” crystallizes Anne’s regret with chilling pathos and ethos.

The emotional truth “North” brings to the stage is life-changing and spirit-awakening.

NORTH

Presented by the for/word Company at 59E59 Theatre B. Conceived by Christina Ritter and Jennifer Schlueter. Written and Directed by Jennifer Schlueter. Scenic Design by Brad Steinmetz. Costume Design by Kristine Kearney. Lighting Design by Anjeannette Stokes. Choreographed by Karen Mozingo

WITH: Kalafatic Poole (Charles), Christina Ritter (Anne), and Christopher Marlowe Roche (St-Ex).

NORTH begins performances on Thursday, October 4 for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 28. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7:15 PM; Friday at 8:15 PM; Saturday at 2:15 PM and 8:15 PM; and Sunday at 3:15 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Tickets are $25 ($17.50 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or go to www.59e59.org. The running time of “North’ is approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Thursday, October 11, 2012