Updated Fri, Feb 17, 2012 7:26 am
The Ohio University School of Theater will present The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, an adaptation by David Fishelson, Feb. 15-18 and Feb. 22-25 in the Forum Theater, located on the ground floor of the Radio-Television Building at 9 South College Street.
As part of her M.F.A. thesis production, Jamie Lish is directing the highly-theatrical adaptation of the classic novel.
In this production, nineteenth century Russia meets twenty-first century America as a naïve prince struggles to find his way through a world torn between love and power, and virtue and corruption.
"While reading the play, I found a lot of correlations between Russia in the late nineteenth century and today in the United states," said Lish. "Both cultures express infatuation with materialism and competing assertions in political and religious realms. There are individuals within both cultures who appear solely to be out for themselves pursuing material gain. Some people go to astounding, dark and repulsive lengths to achieve personal happiness or contentment."
Lish says that Prince Myshkin was another significant factor that attracted her to the play. "I was really drawn to the character of the prince and how he never betrays his moral compass even when he is betrayed by those around him," she said.
The young prince Leo Nikolayevich Myshkin, played by Chris Young, finds his way back to St. Petersburg, Russia, after spending several years at a Switzerland sanatorium to treat an illness. Often referred to as an idiot due to his naivety, loyalty and trustworthiness, the poor prince is taken advantage of in a world where society is fueled by money, power and greed.
Myshkin’s adjustment to life in St. Petersburg begins with his introduction to General Yepanchin (J.R. Pierce), the husband of Lizaveta Prokofyevna Yepanchin (Natalie Chapman), who is a distant relative of the prince. Myshkin begins a relationship with the Yepanchin’s and their three daughters, one of which is Aglaya Yepanchin (Laura Ornella), whom he falls in love with. He soon finds himself in a strange predicament, as he is also in love with Nastassya Filippovna (Emily Williams), a known mistress of the town.
The plot thickens as Myshkin rents an apartment with Ganya Ivolgin (Brian Steele), assistant to General Yepanchin, who has been offered a proposal to marry Filippovna for 75,000 rubles from an aristocrat, Mr. Totsky (Jonathan Perkins), who is formally involved with the mistress. All along, Ivolgin is also in love with Aglaya Yepanchin.
As a result of his own naivety, Myshkin finds himself in troublesome situations during his time in Russia. He finds love, he is loved, and he is abused. He is taken advantage of, and he is taken care of. Ultimately, Myshkin's warm, non-judgmental heart triggers catastrophe, leaving the mind to ponder: In a society so fixated on money, power, and betrayal, could someone such as this survive?
Young's performance is heartfelt and gripping throught the play, and Lish hopes the audience makes a connection with the well-meaning prince.
"I do hope that, in the end, the audience will want to go over and give Prince Myshkin a hug," she said.
Slideshow: OU School of Theater's "The Idiot"
Chris Young and Emily Williams
Jessica Link, Sarah Kamyar and Eb Madson
Max Monnig and Chris Young
Max Monnig and Chris Young
Laura Ornella and Chris Young
Jessica Link and Max Monnig
J.R. Pierce and Brian Steele
Krista Cickovskis and Jessica Link
Emily Williams, Chris Young, Max Monnig and Eb Madson