Alice (Susan Angelo) in Dance of Death. Photo by Greg Schwartz.
By Ed Rampell
This A Noise Within production of the Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s 1900 The Dance of Death is expertly acted and directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott. The latter also co-stars as the former artillery captain Edgar, who is enmeshed in the most miserable marriage this side of Edward Albee’s George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, not to mention those suffering Scandinavian spouses in many films from Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.
In The Dance of Death ANW Resident Artist Susan Angelo masterfully depicts has-been actress Alice, the other half of this unhappy marriage -- or perhaps I should say the other “third” of what becomes a triangle, once the couple’s old “friend” and Alice’s cousin, Kurt (Eric Curtis Johnson), enters the fray. In a way Angelo is playing an updated version of the character she also splendidly portrayed in last summer’s Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, wherein her Beatrice bickers and verbally jousts with Benedick, in an Elizabethan England version of the not-so-merry war between the sexes.
ANW’s The Dance of Death is a new version adapted by the noted Irish playwright Conor McPherson. What ANW presented on stage seems to be The Dance of Death I, not including the second part of the play, which Strindberg also wrote in 1900. McPherson’s adaptation stresses the gallows humor aspect of Strindberg’s work, and many in the nearly sold out opening night aud, laughed and smiled at the black comedy elements -- although many of the not-quite guffaws might stick in your throat.
The Dance of Death runs through Nov. 23 at A Noise Within, 3352 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107. For exact times, dates and more info: 636-356-3100, ext. 1; www.anoisewithin.org.