"Adultery, steamy romantic subplots, a great universal sadness in a time of revolution, what's not to love?" Was the answer I got when I asked actor Cody Thompson (Miron) why one should see The Eccentrics opening today (Thursday, February 21st) at the University of Utah. I have to admit, I was certainly intrigued.
The Eccentrics revolves around Mastakov (Drew Baker), a writer and hopeless romantic who recklessly carries on a heated affair with his mistress, Olga (Krystal Kennedy), right under the nose of his loving and devoted wife, Elena (Jorden Saxton). But it is a perilous time. Russia is crumbling and political and social unrest is spreading.
Maxim Gorky was a Russian writer from the time of Anton Chekhov and is well known for his literary works as well as his controversial social and political activism. The Eccentrics is one of Gorky's least known plays, and staging's of it are incredibly rare. It is set in 1910 Russia against a background of discontentment and revolutionary agitation. However, as director Alexandra Harbold points out, at its core, this story is about love.
Saxton goes on to say that "the play may seem to be about infidelity on the surface, hopefully an audience will experience a play about understanding, and the need to be understood, which is something that we all strive for."
The University of Utah's Department of Theatre has produced quite the season this year. I've even heard some call it the "Season of Sin." Dealing with school shootings, torrid love affairs, gay relationships and now adultery, one might shy away from the controversial shows. However, having seen every show, I can attest to the message, respect and journey that each production undeniably produces. I applaud the U for their daring choices, brave voices and outstanding talent. The Eccentrics promises to be nothing short of what we have come to expect from them -unforgettable and impactful.
And after all that, if you are still wondering if you should see this show, take it from Director Alexandra Harbold - you might never get this chance again. "The Eccentrics is staged too rarely. Gorky's play is funny and moving - full of Russian ennui, covert passions, revolutionary stirrings, and dueling skeptics, cynics, and idealists. Gorky writes of a rapidly changing and divided world with hope and compassion. That feels timely. "
The Eccentrics is playing February 21-24, 2013 at Studio 115, located at 240 South 1500 East in the Performing Arts Building. Ticket prices are $10 for General Admission and can be purchased on their website.
Photo Credits: Spencer Sandstrom