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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Also see Susan's reviews of Glimpses of the Moon and Circle Mirror Transformation

The Talented Mr. Ripley
Marcus Kyd and Karl Miller
Karl Miller understands the power of a closely observed, subtle performance, which makes him the perfect actor to play the chameleonic Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland. Phyllis Nagy's adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel is long-winded on occasion and takes awhile to get where it's going, but is never less than interesting.

People who know the character of Tom Ripley, the likable sociopath, only from Matt Damon's performance in the 1999 film version of the story will be surprised at the darker shadows cast by Miller's portrayal. Rather than an unformed young man who stumbles into self-discovery, Ripley as depicted by Miller is a clever petty criminal always looking for the next opportunity. The actor makes clear that, whoever the "real" Ripley might be, he's constantly searching for a different identity. (A funny early scene shows him answering the question "What do you do?" with a succession of different answers—and the people to whom he's talking never even notice.)

Before a single actor appears, Narelle Sissons' scenic design vividly lays out Ripley's skewed perspective on life, as well as his interest in art. Slanting walkways suggest the surrealistic vision of Salvador Dali; the backdrop is a large Impressionist-style painting that changes character under washes of colored light designed by Kenton Yeager, and a painting of a mythical tableau hovers uncertainly above the stage.

Director Blake Robison has gathered a skilled ensemble to embody all the people in Ripley's world: Nagy has designed the play so most of the actors play two or three roles. Marcus Kyd is appropriately sleek as Richard Greenleaf, the wealthy young man to whose lifestyle (and, for that matter, life) Ripley aspires, and Kaytie Morris is Richard's earthy girlfriend, as well as an unfortunate Italian woman. John Lescault is Richard's pompous father; Naomi Jacobson gets to present comic cameos as Richard's mother and Ripley's rather terrifying aunt; and Sasha Olinick and Billy Finn add color and texture with their multiple roles.

Round House Theatre
The Talented Mr. Ripley
September 8th 26th
By Phyllis Nagy, adapted from the novel by Patricia Highsmith
Tom Ripley: Karl Miller
Richard Greenleaf: Marcus Kyd
Marge Sherwood/Sophia: Kaytie Morris
Freddie Miles/Marc Priminger: Sasha Olinick
Herbert Greenleaf/Roverini: John Lescault
Emily Greenleaf/Aunt Dottie: Naomi Jacobson
Fausto/Reddington/Silvio: Billy Finn
Directed by Blake Robison
4545 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 240-644-1100 or www.roundhousetheatre.org


Photo: Danisha Crosby


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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