Byam Stevens, Artistic Director


The New England Premiere of

Crime and Punishment

adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus

from the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky



July 20 - 31, 2011


Reviewed by Donna Bailey-Thompson

Within the Chester Theatre Company's groves of academia, minds are being seduced by Dostoyevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, a piercing study of a horrific crime's detritus and its bedeveilment of and by the perpetrator who believes his world view is appropriated.

The brilliant, suffocating heat outside could not disturb the penetrating concentration of a rapt audience. Instead, with the aid of Vicki R. Davis’ Set Design, the ashen and black cloth cocoon, skewed doors, gauzy portraits of the murdered women, is a dungeon where high above a lone, stark window permits a shard of light to slice through the dank.

The play begins with the somber sounds (Designed by Tom Shread) of the tolling of a full-bodied bell that gradually morphs into the throbbing resonance of a bass fiddle’s deep range. A disheveled young man wearing grubby clothing (Costume Design by Gail Brassard) assumes a series of black-out positions, each one clearly telegraphing that Raskolnikov (Chad Hoeppner), in spite of his convoluted rationale proclaiming the accuracy of his philosophical beliefs, he is consumed with the crippling pain of what in a lucid mind would be guilt for the brutal killing of two women.

Tall, distinguished Porfiry Petrovich (Steve Hendrickson) interacts with Roskolnikov as if they are equals or adversaries or teacher-student or inquisitor or judge and jury. Clearly, they enjoy their interaction, even when it becomes combative. The exercising of their intellects stimulates but at times becomes an emotional drain.

Sonya (Kim Stauffer) is Roskolnikov’s true friend. She has no agenda other than to offer him comfort, understanding and redemption. As pointed out by a theatergoer during the Talk Back, she is a true Christian. She does not fail Roskolnikov.

Director Sheila Siragusa’s pace of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT parries and thrusts. Clearly a wonder is the 90-minute adaptation of the 500-page novel by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus and the riveting performances of the three actors.

Once again, Chester Theatre Company has delivered boards on which others fail to tread.

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