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Home / Articles / Arts / Theater /  Fractured fairytale
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Wednesday, Jul 13, 2011

Fractured fairytale

Peer Gynt, and the rest of this week's theater

By Martin Jones Westlin
7-13-thr-image The three-headed Troll King (from left, Kate Cullen Roberts, Luis Moreno and Evan Zes) is exactly the kind of apparition Peer Gynt would dream up.
- Photo by Don Ipock

You can tell what kind of man a prince is by the steed he rides, says the incorrigible Peer Gynt, title character in La Jolla Playhouse’s current adaptation of the iconic Henrik Ibsen dreamscape. Peer trades up from a pig to a stallion in the show, so we know where this guy’s been, and we appreciate the sincere efforts he’s made to repair his track record of theft and self-delusion.

But there’s a serious disconnect between the story and its fantastical trappings. Peer’s mom Aase (a good Birgit Huppuch), for example, complains bitterly that her husband left her with no one to help raise her son—yet she’s a colossal nag, whose constant yammering ought to have kept Peer (Danny Gavigan) on the straight-and-narrow in his youth. This adaptation is full of glitches like these—and at their center is Gavigan, whose hayseed demeanor is simply not enough to carry the part.

Ibsen once called Peer Gynt unstageable—and while that’s not exactly true here, its faults make it untenable at the least.

The show, directed and adapted by David Schweizer and staged in association with The Kansas City Repertory Theatre, runs through July 24 at La Jolla Playhouse’s Potiker Theatre, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive. $35 and up.


Gam3rs: Reality-challenged gaming geek Steve Smolinski has one hour to save the world. If only he didn’t have to do it from his cubicle at work. Opens in previews July 17 at The Tenth Avenue Theatre, Downtown. $5. chinesepiratepro

Moon over Buffalo: Buffalo rep actors George and Charlotte Hay open a can of worms over which is better, the stage or the cinema. Opens July 15 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. $8-$16. onstageplay

The Who’s Tommy: A deaf, dumb and blind kid plays a mean pinball and becomes the leader of a messianic cult. Produced by The San Diego Repertory Theatre, it opens in previews July 16 at The Lyceum, Downtown. $42-$48.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: The landmark 2008 webcast in which Dr. Horrible tries to woo the fair maiden Penny, only to be foiled by the righteous Captain Ham mer, takes to the stage. Produced by Chinese Pirate Productions, it opens July 17 at The Tenth Avenue Theatre, Downtown. $25. chinese

Now Playing

Body Awareness: While Phyllis and Joyce tackle their impasse about the work of a photographer friend, their adult son struggles to physically express himself. Produced by Ion Theatre Company, it runs through July 30 at BLK BOX @ 6th & Penn in Hillcrest. $10-$22.

Poster Boys: Caroline struggles with the choices she’s made to make it to the top of her field while remnants of an old heartbreak threaten to destroy everything she has worked to build. Through July 31 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $31-$33.

The Woolgatherer: Rose, a shy Philly dime-store sales clerk whose life centers around reveries and daydreams, meets up with rough and witty Cliff, who’s as starved for love as Rose is. Produced by Ion Theater Company, it runs through July 31 at BLK BOX @ 6th & Penn in Hillcrest. $10-$22.

A Roman Holiday: Stacey’s plan to make fiancé Michael jealous goes awry when her friend Nigel dons a dress and introduces himself as a German chef. Through Aug. 7 at Coronado Playhouse. $20-$25 without dinner, $50 with.

miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb’s Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 4 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. $28-$58.

Amadeus: Composer Antonio Salieri throws up a series of roadblocks to sidetrack the career of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his supposed archrival. Through Sept. 22 at The Old Globe Theatre’s Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67.

Much Ado about Nothing: While Beatrice and Benedick hide their infatuation beneath witty barbs, young love blossoms as Hero and Claudio race to the altar, with the wicked Don John conspiring to break up the wedding. Through Sept. 24 at The Old Globe Theatre’s Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67.

The Tempest: With the help of his spirit friend Ariel, the magician Prospero conjures up a shipwreck that restores his daughter to her rightful place in the Milan hierarchy. Through Sept. 25 at The Old Globe Theatre’s Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67.

Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: How else can a miserable 25-year marriage end but in murder? Presented by Mystery Cafe, it’s ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner.