BWW Review: THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, Wilton's Music Hall
Tom Ripley is struggling to make a living in New York City. When he's approached by Herbert Greenleaf - shipping magnate and father to an old university acquaintance of his - he sets sail for Italy to convince his son Dickie, whose friendship he exaggerates greatly, to go back to the US and join the family business. There, he gets a taste of the life of luxury afforded by the Greenleafs and a string of lies, deception, and scams kicks off.
Mark Leipacher's adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley lands at Wilton's Music Hall after multiple runs, award nominations, and general critical acclaim. Directed by the adapter, the piece presents an energetic and absorbing pace. Leipacher tears down the fourth wall brick by brick and expanding a sense of paranoia through the audience, flirting with reality and fiction.
He establishes a peculiar relationship between these two degrees, using Chris Withers' sharp and unforgiving lighting design to frame the tangible and having Christopher Hughes' fidgety Ripley shape the original material. The result is an enthralling example of storytelling. Hughes is supported by Christopher York as Dickie and Natasha Rickman as his girlfriend Marge.
A handful of additional actors take on the multitude of characters who inhabit Ripley's cons and show the path of obsession and deceit. Of Highsmith's thematic lines, Leipacher explores identity exceptionally well, proving that it's nothing but an act. Hughes and York exchange mannerism and flare while Ripley falls deeper into his entanglement.
A well-known story that's had plenty of reworings, the strength of this specific production certainly lies in its direction and visual impact. The natural layout of Wilton's Music Hall heightens this, allowing Leipacher to deploy the action to two levels, enhancing the layering of the tale and reinforcing the aesthetics of the show.
A solid chunk of theatre under all aspects, The Talented Mr. Ripley is back to charm audiences with fumbling charisma (or nearly lack thereof) and paranoid inclinations.