Forget about East and West—you could hardly expect them to meet when even Uptown and Downtown can’t get their methodologies to merge. This second stage adaptation of E.M. Forster’s seminal novel (there’s an equally ungainly earlier one, by the Anglo-Indian novelist Santha Rama Rau) was a co-production by the Nottingham Playhouse and the experimental London troupe Shared Experience. Slow-moving and schematic, with mostly tinny acting and heavily signaled messages from adapter Martin Sherman’s script, Nancy Meckler’s production often looked as though it hadn’t been able to decide between two ways of doing a thing, and so was trying them both.
Some of Sherman’s scenes, particularly those between Adela and Ronny, had the crisp clarity of his best writing; some of the actors, especially Fenella Woolgar (Adela) and Alex Caan (Dr. Aziz), gave hints of being able to do better in a different context. The Indian music (the program credits a composer and two advisers) was first-rate throughout. But a novel like this one, with the ineffable at its core, is the least feasible kind for adaptation; attempting to convey choreographically (twice, if you please) Adela’s experience in the Marabar Caves was the production’s seal of doom: Some experiences are just unshareable.