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BWW Review: TIMELESS AND TIMELY A LIE AGREED UPON AT THE GAMM THEATRE

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An excellent rewrite of Ibsen's AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

BWW Review: TIMELESS AND TIMELY A LIE AGREED UPON AT THE GAMM THEATRE

A LIE AGREED UPON is an excellent rewrite of Henrik Ibsen's 1882 play, AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, and the performances are more than equal to the bold material.

Tony Estrella, the writer and director of this production, did not deviate far from the source material, in his reworking of An Enemy of the People, and as the story unfolds it becomes all too clear that the show's late 19th century themes remain relevant as ever. That the definition of truth and media impartiality are under threat, and the meddling of powerful economic interests threaten the well-being of well, everything and everyone. A Lie Agreed Upon follows the story of Dr. Thomas Stockman (Sean McConaghy), a medical examiner charged with inspecting the public hot springs that he helped to promote...and on which the prosperity of his hometown depends. When Stockman finds the water to be contaminated, his attempts to speak the truth are shut down by a growing mob that includes the mayor, Peter Stockman (Jonathan Higginbotham), who is also his brother. While the rewrite doesn't define the decade being portrayed, that hardly matters when so many of the characters' situations and declarations could be ripped from today's headlines and news articles.

From the leads to the actors embodying the townspeople, there is not a weak link in the cast. Sean McConaghy brings the right amount of pathos to the role of the doctor who just wants to do the right thing for the town he loves based on the scientific evidence he's discovered. As his counterpart, Jonathan Higginbotham is perfect as the mayor who is frustratingly skeptical about the seriousness of the doctor's claims, and moreso of his proposed, very expensive solutions that might be difficult for the town to weather. The newspaper crew who find themselves torn between the interests of both camps are played by Nora Eschenheimer (as Thea Hovstad), Jeff Ararat (as Billings), and Fred Sullivan, Jr. (as Mr. Aslaksen). The issues they face illustrate the challenges faced by journalists to this day - the constant battle between wanting to present the truth while also being beholden to advertisers and those in power. And although she speaks but once, Aniko Moscarelli's physical performance as Greta Stockman leaves a big impact (note: the role is portrayed by Lola Darling during some shows). Kudos also to the several cast members making their Gamm Theatre debuts in this production, including the three 2021-2022 Gamm Fellows, Maria Noriko Cabral, Dan Garcia, and Erik Robles.

The scenery is sparse, largely consisting of chairs and a table, but are still able to transport the audience to a variety of settings. The show's lighting design is also used to good effect throughout the play, such as when its use enhances the broken fourth wall during the show's second half.

A Lie Agreed Upon could not be a more appropriate show for current times and makes for a perfect return to thought-provoking live theatre. Don't miss it.

A Lie Agreed Upon runs September 30th-October 24th at The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, RI. Tickets are $49-$69. Discounts for seniors, students, groups, and more are available. Details at gammtheatre.org/discounts. For tickets, call 401-723-4266 or visit gammtehatre.org.

For the safety and comfort of Gamm audiences, all patrons must present either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the theatre. All patrons, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks.

Pictured: Sean McConaghy (Dr. Thomas Stockman) Background L to R: Donnla Hughes (Katherine Stockman), Aniko Moscarelli (Greta Stockman), Maria Noriko Cabral (Townsperson), Erik Robles (Townsperson), Sarah Sinclair (Townsperson). Photo by Peter Goldberg.


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From This Author Erica Cataldi-Roberts