THE AGE OF INNOCENCE Enchants at McCarter!
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE at McCarter Theatre feels like a respite from a shameless world. Dripping with elegance and elevated decorum of New York society circa 1870, the play, however, is anything but remote. It seems to speak to the quieter reality most of us still remember-the one waiting for permission to matter once again. Not one of elite social circles, but of contemplation and self-knowledge, even when they hurt.
Directed by Tony Award winner Doug Hughes, the adaptation of Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Oscar and Tony-nominated writer Douglas McGrath is crisp and lyrical, much like the pangs that come from remembering lost time and moments of choice between desire and duty.
Boyd Gaines, our ambassador to that world in the role of Old Gentleman, leads the talented cast, which includes Andrew Veenstra (Newland Archer) Sierra Boggess (Countess Ellen Olenska) and Helen Cespedes (May Welland) as well as about a dozen others. It is a huge ensemble, extravagant but perfectly suited to the occasion, a nod to the ethos of the Golden Age that is matched by including a pianist on stage, Yan Li, who can be both obvious and ignored.
The rules of society are rigid, we learn, but the production, as McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann stated, explores a connection to something far greater.
"What I love most about Douglas McGrath's brilliant adaptation is how all of us-regardless of age, background, or varied experiences-look back on our past decisions and wonder 'did I make the right choice?' This production shows the universal truth behind the struggle of choosing one path over another."
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE feels less about a time in history than it does a stage of life, understood only when the trance of youth is broken.
The Age of Innocence runs September 7 - October 7 in the Berlind Theatre. Tickets start at $25 and are on sale now online at mccarter.org, by phone at (609) 258-2787, or in person at the McCarter Ticket Office, located at 91 University Place in Princeton. mccarter.org
The production's running time is 100 minutes, with no intermission.
Photo credit: T. Charles Erickson