The Harvard Theatre Group's production of "Darkness at Noon" is undoubtedly the finest undergraduate dramas presented at Harvard in more than two years. There are few nuances and technical details that fall short; the production as a whole, including acting, staging, setting, and lighting, is on a high level of achievement.
Sidney Kingsley's adaptation of the novel by Arthur Koestler is magnificently clear in presenting its ideas--that the revolutionary dreams of Communism have no reality today, and that those who disregard the means for the end are inevitably crushed by their own logic. The setting in which these ideas are presented is a fitting one: a prison filed with men who are doomed, and with the guards who are less men than automatons.
Into this prison, guards throw Nicolal Rubashov, a leader of the revolution now accused of counter-revolutionary activity. Rubashov believed the dream, and he still does. David Bowen shows us a Rubashov whose downfall lies in his insistence-on thinking things out to the end. At first he is perhaps a little too reticent in showing Rubashov's strength, but, as the play builds to a climax, Bowen's characterization becomes completely convincing and powerful. At the end, his Rubashov is a man of real dignity and stature.
Those who appear in other cells in the prison, tapping on the stone to communicate with each other, and those in flashbacks of Rubashov's life, are also carefully and even passionately portrayed. Joanna Brown is a moving and, at the same time, strong Lube, Rubshov's secretary and lover. She, more than any other in the cast, acts with both clarity and emotion. Theodore Gershuny plays Gletkin, the brutish child of the new order, with admirable force, but a little too much vehemence. Ivanoff, Gletkin's predecessor as commandant of the prison, is intelligently and smoothly acted by Michael Mabry. Director Charles Humpstone has done well with his cast.
Acting credits are many, but technical credits cannot--be ignored. David Hays' ingenious multiple set is almost a miracle on the stage of Sanders Theatre. It is simple, complete, and operates smoothly in spite of its complexity. John Ryan's lighting complements the set perfectly in setting the mood of the play. The degree of technical and artistic excellence of "Darkness at Noon" is both encouraging and promising, and should silence those who would complain of the state of Harvard's drama.