Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 7, 2011

Autres Temps

Wharton Salon, The Mount, Lenox, MA
through August 28, 2011
by Shera Cohen

In its third year, the Wharton Salon troupe continues to mount one Edith Wharton short story each summer. Dennis Krausnick, once again, has adapted the work of Wharton into play form. While the productions of 2009 and 2010 depicted Wharton's style, purpose, and stories admirably, this year's "Autre Temps" fails to do Wharton or Krausnick justice.

Celebrating Wharton's 100-year old piece by staging it in what was once her stable, makes this the ideal and intimate venue for this relatively new and small theatre group.

Many of Wharton's novels and stories focus on the mores of a century ago, class, society, social change vs. tradition, oftentimes reflected through the subject of divorce. The characters, setting, and plot of "Autre Temps" fit the Wharton mold. This was an era when divorce was shameful, and the divorcee was often annihilated from social circles - essentially making her entire purpose for life worthless.

Knowing that Diane Prusha (a Shakespeare & Company acting veteran) was the star showed high promise for the play. Unfortunately, even Prusha cannot pull it all together into a cohesive drama. Basically, the production is just not ready. Actors stumble on lines and many are inaudible (even from the fourth row), either the direction is sluggish or the actors or both, set areas are unused and set changes take much too long. Some important theatre elements are ignored; i.e. the audience's seeing props when a stage door is opened, actors prematurely and inappropriately moving in anticipation of dialogue.

Now, perhaps this third day of performance happened to be an especially bad day for cast and crew? The play's French title means "Other Times." From past experience, it is clear that the Wharton Salon is more than capable of wonderful productions. However, those were "other times" which, hopefully, can occur again next summer.