Comic great Robin Williams once said, “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.” Williams suffered from depression, but his ability to feel the lows and to make people laugh perhaps contributed to his gift on a deeper level. Getting the laugh is greater when the pain in which it is earned is also felt, achieving connection. Perhaps this is why there is also an in-house psychiatrist at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, California.
Theatre Kapow captured isolation and resilience in a play centered around a group of people clinging for hope in A.J. Ditty’s resonating play, The Boyg based partially on the life of Per Krohg. Art and isolation are key elements and are heavily weighed as each character attempts to connect with each other in their own distinct way.
Celebrating its first indoor production in over a year, Theatre Kapow presented A.J. Ditty’s The Boyg in Derry, New Hampshire in September, toured in Charlestown, Massachusetts as October started, and the show is now available online through October 10. Click here for tickets and more information.
Before continuing, it is important to note that A.J. Ditty’s The Boyg, named after Ibsen’s classic play Peer Gynt’s groundbreaking literary monster, does not make the play a prerequisite to appreciate this production, but a companion piece. The show is part play within a play and for those who know Peer Gynt, having read Ibsen’s work may promote a richer understanding, but does not affect the universal appeal of this show.
There is a phantom presence lingering over The Boyg, a sense of tension and dread that builds throughout the production and is rarely addressed until it is unavoidable. It hides in games, questions, plays, and pleasant conversation and perhaps glimpsed in a pause or a worried glance. Enhanced by Tayva Young’s mood-induced lighting and versatile sound designed by Jake Hudgins, it is an element as real as any of the characters in this production.
Set inside a Norwegian concentration camp during World War II, each character has every reason to try to forget their present circumstances, but struggle within the inevitability of their situation. Duty, work which is often self defeating, and art seem only to hold more than a moment’s distraction.
The cast displays good timing and chemistry even as characters who often struggle to understand each other in their mutual pain. As barracks leader Odd Nansen, portrayed ardently by Carey Cahoon, Odd seems the most willing to give into whatever is necessary to keep up morale while Professor Francis Bull depicted by Molly Kane Parker, prefers to escape into literature and theatre to cope with the present.
Rebecca Tucker delivers an intriguing and heartfelt performance as secretive, complex, and anguished Per Krohg who struggles with what it takes to survive. Tucker’s cat-and-mouse conversations with Nicholas Wilder as harsh and manipulative Captain Denzer and Sabrina Sehlegel-Megia’s earnest portrayal of rebellious and mysterious Mikhail Hjorthson’s haunting recollections of past experiences are particular highlights.
What does it take to peel back life’s meaning where there is no other choice? Reflecting on art and culture while staring into the face of mortality, isn’t life better with connection over dread?