Feature

A Room With a View

This musical version of E.M. Forster’s 1908 novel unfolds in a “self-contained, self-assured universe of its own.”

The Old Globe, San Diego(619) 234-5623

**

This musical version of E.M. Forster’s 1908 novel unfolds in a “self-contained, self-assured universe of its own,” said James Hebert in The San Diego Union-Tribune. While the book was made into a lauded Merchant/Ivory film in 1986, this well-written and elegantly orchestrated adaptation “doesn’t need to lean on affection for the movie” to be satisfying. Forster’s story centers on Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman vacationing in Florence with her stuffy chaperone, Charlotte. While there, she meets George Emerson, a poor bohemian to whom she becomes so attracted that she dares to defy Edwardian notions of decorum. The Florence of the show is a romantic hothouse that provides a striking contrast to “the more constricted world of Edwardian England” that Lucy returns to in the second act.

Sadly, poor choices on the director’s part “drain the piece of subtlety and interest,” said Bob Verini in Variety. Apparently mistrustful of his material, Scott Schwartz “steers his cast into absurd, ludicrous cutouts of upper-class behavior,” with the women all “constantly squealing as if mice were underfoot.” Ephie Aardema’s Lucy thus never feels emotionally authentic, and Karen Ziemba’s Charlotte makes the chaperone’s insistence on propriety feel too absurd to present a major obstacle to our heroine. At least George feels human: Kyle Harris’s heartfelt portrayal leaves little doubt why Lucy would leave her wealthy suitor for him. Schwartz would have been wise had he followed Harris’s lead and let this production “treat traditional authority’s power as something to be taken, and confronted, for real.”

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