If the family intrigue recalls centuries of domestic melodrama, the political situation—brave, violent ultra-reactionaries against ruthless secularizers—unmistakably evokes Iraq today, an excellent justification for bringing Night Over Taos back to life. Although prosy and clunkily constructed, Anderson's play offers scenes that could easily turn to lightning in the hands of a more vibrant company. Lacking the likes of the young Franchot Tone and Stella Adler, Parsons's crew hardly electrifies, though Jack Landron and Mickey Solis, as feudal father and younger son, sustain their roles with dogged competence.

Tolstoy's human viciousness: Danson and Reed in The Power of Darkness
Rahav Segev/Photopass 2007
Tolstoy's human viciousness: Danson and Reed in The Power of Darkness

Details

The Power of Darkness
By Leo Tolstoy
Mint Theater
311 West 43rd Street
212-315-0231

Night Over Taos
By Maxwell Anderson
Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue
212-352-3101

Margaret Fleming
By James A. Herne
Connolly Theater
220 East 4th Street
212-352-3101

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Nor does the Metropolitan's cast for Margaret Fleming generate much electricity, though Alex Roe's efficient production makes clear both the play's importance and the reasons that it only succeeded after audience taste had caught up with it. Sweet-natured Margaret, the pampered wife of a wealthy mill owner, has her eyes opened like Mrs. Alving's when she finds the living evidence of her husband's adultery nursing at her breast. Herne's sagacious moves include a comic subplot that adds bitter twists to the main theme, and a sly, unspoken parallel between husband Fleming's personal morals and his business practices. Regrettably, the ineffectual actor playing Fleming sinks much of Roe's lucid staging, despite everything his more competent colleagues can do. But grit your teeth and stick with it; your reward is a play well worth knowing.

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