note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey
Vaclav Havel's play "Temptation" is one unwieldy script --- but The Theatre Coop in Somerville manages to make sense and make hay of it, so those long political speeches happily turn out to be pretty funny.
Based on the Faust legend, Havel's Dr. Foustka end up more like Don Giovanni than Faust: there's no redemption for this surly alchemist. Havel's Marguerite (here called Marketa) ends up more like Ophelia. Everyone is an informer in "Temptation". Havel ought to know, having been imprisoned for his views for almost as many years as he's been President.
"Temptation" is a nihilistic play about the evil lurking in all of us, given the right --- or wrong --- circumstances. Thankfully, director Dave Dowling emphasizes the looniness of Havel's script so the institute where Dr Foustka works is full of zany maniacs. Chief among them is Steve Turner as the institute director with wandering hands. Turner's slimy deadpan and phoney solicitousness make for great fun. Barlow Adamson is wonderfully droll as the tempted scientist, but Randy Fairs brings down the house as the devil himself --- or is he? Fairs lurks, smirks, and laughs the laugh of the damned. Very spooky stuff.
Laura Napalm gives a powerful performance as the innocent naif who falls for Faustka, then falls apart when he throws her over for his former squeeze and fellow scientist, played by Helen McElwain. Everyone in Dowling's cast, including the heavy metal musicians, contributes to the haunting, out of control atmosphere in "Temptation". Give in. Go see it