Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Little Erik
Aurora Theatre Company
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of The Little Mermaid, Sagittarius Ponderosa and A Song at Twilight and Patrick's review of Bad Dates

Wilma Bonet, Joe Estlack, and Jack Wittmayer
Photo by David Allen
Award-winning director Mark Jackson is delivering a provocative drama at the Aurora Theatre Company. He always presents classics that he adapts with a gutsy and brainy instinct. Now, the inventive director has adapted Henrik Ibsen's lesser known 1884 drama Little Eyolf and has called it Little Erik. He has set the drama in present day Northern California and cut it down to 80 minutes.

Freddie is the father of a 9-year-old disabled son and he dotes over the boy, much to the consternation of his wife Joie. They have built a home in the mountains north of San Francisco where they spend weekends. Joie is really not interested in her son; she is only interested in the high tech industry and hanging out with Freddie's sister Andi to talk about their secret past.

Young Erik goes into a nearby lake and drowns. The father is beside himself with grief. Freddie and Joie's relationship, which was not good before the drowning, becomes worse. Their confrontations become more intense. During these penetrating arguments, Mark Jackson throws in such thoughts as nature vs. technology. He even furnishes lines like "Children are not the future. Old people are the future. Nobody gets younger."

The six talented actors under Jackson's sharp direction are outstanding. Joe Estlack gives a great performance as a man deeply disorganized, but he makes the role sympathetic. Marilee Talkington is compelling as Joie. Her heated arguments are very convincing. Young Jack Wittmayer is outstanding as Erik. He handles the crutches and twisted body like a pro. Wilma Bonet gives a wonderful creepy performance as the Rat Wife. Mariah Castle as Joie's sister Audi and Greg Ayes as Freddie's friend have very little to do but they are splendid in their small roles.

Nina Ball has designed as starkly bare set with a few chairs and table on a hardwood floor while Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky devised some interesting video designs of snow falling.

Mark Jackson's Little Erik continues through February 28th, 2016, at the Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison Street, Berkeley. For tickets call 510-843-4822 or visit Coming up next is Sarah Treem's The How and the Why opening on March 8th.