Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 1, 2014

A Song at Twilight

Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT
through March 16, 2014
by Jarice Hanson

With themes of closeted homosexuality in the twentieth century, and looking back at one’s life, wondering what could have been, "A Song at Twilight" resonates with today’s audiences on a number of levels. Noel Coward wrote this play in 1965 and called it “the most serious play I have ever written.” The script has the unmistakable Coward touch; wit that cuts through hurt and cruelty unleashed by the aid of alcohol, but it also expresses sadness and loss that shows the pain of living a lie in an era of denying one’s true love.

The talent in the show is undeniable. Mia Dillon is brilliant in her portrayal of Hilde, the efficient wife of convenience; Gordana Rashovich as Carlotta, the former lover, is chic and powerful. The women’s parts are written with such clarity and purpose that their stories almost overcome that of the famous aging writer whose reputation could be ruined by the scandal Carlotta could affect. Brian Murray as Hugo has a voice that can turn from honey to flint in one sentence, but Director Mark Lamos panders to today’s audience with unnecessary music and visualizations of flashbacks, and presents Murray with competition on stage that ruins the mood he tries to create.

In this production, the actors cannot overcome a set that is too large and colorful for such an intimate portrait of fame, love, and the “complacent cruelty” that comes with introspection, desire, and loss. Rough patches in the opening of the production will probably become smoother throughout the run, and the crisp dialog is a treat for the ear, but audiences must realize this is a cerebral play, and those hoping for more may be disappointed.