By: Patrick Christiano
Love Is My Sin presented by Theatre for a new Audience in the intimate Duke Theater on 42nd Street is a truly haunting experience. The great English director Peter Brooks (probably best known to American audiences for his films “Lord of the Flies,” Marat/Sade,” and ‘King Lear’) has conceived and adapted 31 of Shakespeare’s sonnets into a magnificently potent brew of romantic exchanges performed by his wife Natasha Parry and Michael Pennington.
Louis Couperin’s 17th century music played by Frank Krawczyk on accordion and keyboard becomes the unifying thread in the stunning 50 minutes, which after debuting in Paris and London has come to New York by way of a European tour.
Love is My Sin traces the life-embracing arc of emotions, jealousy, guilt, adoration and suffering from the souls of two lovers by way of the lyrical language of Shakespeare. The actors perform superbly with the audience on three sides of a stage that looks like shimmering black marbe partially covered by a threadbare Oriental area rug. The minimal set of just two chairs, two tables, and three benches allows the actors and the music to consume the space with awe-inspiring simplicity, which distils Shakespeare’s graceful poetry to the essence of the fluid emotions at the core of his language. The music punctuates the hidden tensions that surface from the interactions of the two lovers, and the lighting design by Philippe Vialatte adds evocative resonance.
The idea for the evening occurred to Mr. Brook almost three years ago, but to carve out a dramatic connection by using only 31 of Shakespeare’s154 sonnets must have been a tremendous challenge. Shakespeare’s diaries are filled with intimate questions into the nature of his own jealousy, passions, guilt and despair. They document his own search to uncover for himself the enticing lure for another person as well as his consuming need to write. Mr. Brook’s evening is not really a play or even a poetry reading, but instead catches the actors in visceral moments of being simply human giving us a penetrating look into the playwright himself in the process. What we are given is a uniquely insightful look at the ever fluctuating nature of human relationships and emotions that is breathtaking in scope and impact.
Photo of Mr. Brooks By Patrick Christiano
Love is My Sin is playing The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Tickets are $75 and may be purchased by phone at 646-233-3010 or on the web at www.dukeon42.org. There is a special deal for ages 25 and under, $10 tickets may be purchased in advance by using the code “NWDL1568.” The limited engagement runs through April 17