At Dunster tonight and Friday
Putting a psychopath on stage has become an excuse for ignoring every rule of drama. Some cute tricks by director Derick Pasternak and some good acting have not redeemed Foucheval, which lacks continuity, tone, credibility, logic, and honesty.
Humbert Foucheval (played by author Lance Morrow) stole the bread from his church's altar when he was young, and has been playing out a whole series of Mr. Morrow's fantasies ever since. His obsession is carving a mountain into an equestrian status of Crazy Horse, which represents, among other things, a desire to resurrect the noble barbarian, a wish to imprison God in stone and thus kill him, and a hope of consecrating the stone of the mountain. I know all these things, because Morrow has written them into the monologue that constitutes the last quarter of the play.
The acting is good, in the face of overwhelming odds. Morrow is a better actor than writer, and often uses his voice effectively, though the character is so tiresomely inconsistent that consistent interpretation is impossible. Lynn Milgrim, as his wife Moira, is about as distraught as I would expect any women to be who was entrapped in Morrow's dramatic madhouse. Tim Grieser and Gordon Lund suffer from direction that flatly contradicts their lines: they try to sound like zombies with lines that sound silly delivered that way.
The tourists who rubberneck at Foucheval's statue are characteristic of another problem: they are funny in a slapstick way, just as Foucheval is often funny in a flip way. But comedy added to philosophy does not automatically produce tragicomedy: Morrow has made no synthesis of tone. It is a miracle that the audience can appreciate the mood of Moira's marvelous waltz scene. The last act is also dramatically outrageous, despite fine touches of lighting and staging.
All these problems pile up in Foucheval, who just doesn't hold together. His behavior is discontinuous, almost irrelevant from one act to the next. His insanity is never explained or resolved; Morrow just decides to cure it and throw a little irrelevant philosophizing into the bargain. He doesn't even respect the audience enough to pretend to continuity. There's just the mountain and the madman, like props.
I have a real reservation in saying this. I don't think every play in the College should be subjected to the same standards; somewhere there should be a chance to make mistakes without the wrath of the CRIMSON. A uniform professional standard makes it much harder to have fun doing a play without a terrific investment of work. The cast of Foucheval shows every sign of enjoying what it is doing. It is equally possible for a reasonably relaxed audience to enjoy some of the better scenes in the play. Freedom to err is valuable; but audiences should be warned that it is getting considerable exercise.