An Enemy of the People

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David Whalen and Jeffrey Binder in An Enemy of the People
David Whalen and Jeffrey Binder in An Enemy of the People

We are so lucky to have so much glorious live theater available to us in SW Florida. Here are two I highly recommend, such opposites, one light and almost silly, and one dark, and almost hopeful. Get to them both.

First, there is a new version of Ibsen’s “The Enemy of the People” at the Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples. They playwright is Rebecca Lenkiewicz, with a literal translation by Charlotte Barslund. Under the superb direction of Kristen Coury, Gulfshore’s Founder and Artistic Director, that stage is electrified. There are nothing but brilliant performances by the nine Equity actors. You won’t see anything better on Broadway.

What is most haunting sitting there gripped, as Ibsen’s gem unfolds, is how totally relevant this 1882 masterpiece is to us living in Florida. Dr. Thomas Stockman, the man who becomes “The Enemy,” suspects and then gathers scientific evidence that the water in the Bath Spa Resort in their town is poisonous and dangerous not only to the touri

sts, but for everyone. Could this be Red Tide? Could this be the dead fish on our beaches? His brother, Peter Stockman, is the Mayor of the town. His support comes from the hotel owners, the restaurants and everyone who makes a living at the Baths.

The money people, their One Percent, put the pressure on the Mayor, the Editor of the Town Newspaper, and the chair of the town council, and it gets to sound like our 2016 election race going on right

now. The dark ending still had hope. The noise of the standing ovation given the cast at Gulfshore Playhouse tells me they will have sellout audiences. Get your tickets fast. It is well worth making it to one of my must see plays of the season. It only runs to April 17th. (866.811.4111)

The second play I delighted in is at The Florida Repertory Theater. This is a romp, a laugh fest, yet with some redeeming qualities, some moral issues that challenge all the laughter.

It is “Becky’s New Car” by the venerable playwright, Steven Dietz. And the dynamic Carrie Lund knows the play must have been written for her, because she gives one of the greatest performances of her sterling career. Becky works at a car dealership doing the paperwork on all car sales. She’s married to a loveable blue collar guy, Joe, ably played by Craig Brockhorn, fresh from staring in “Twelve Angry Men.” He is so solid. You’ll love him.

The twists and turns go up and down, in and around. There is a son living with Becky and Joe, a new-age son who takes the plot on a roller coaster ride. And, very importantly, there is a rich man admirably portrayed by Peter Thomasson, who comes late in the day to the dealership to buy five cars as gifts for his employees when only Becky is in the office.

That’s when a little immorality and a few lies, some deceptions and Bec

ky’s life goes berserk. I’ve never seen Carrie Lund having more fun. All kudos go to her.

That sold out audience that day loved it as judged by all those gray haired couples standing up in a heartfelt ovation. Get your tickets fast. It only runs until April 8th. (239.332.4488 Or