The Arts

Next Stage Festival/MackenzieRo – Autumn Smith and Cathy Murphy’s Adaptation of The Rake’s Progress

Next Stage Festival/MackenzieRo – Autumn Smith and Cathy Murphy’s Adaptation of The Rake’s Progress featured image

reviewed by Paula Citron
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The Rake’s Progress
Next Stage Festival/MackenzieRo
Adapted by Autumn Smith and Cathy Murphy from Stravinsky’s opera and Hogarth’s paintings
Directed by Autumn Smith
Starring Bruce Beaton and David Christo with Tom Bates, Cathy Murphy, Julie Tepperman, Eli Ham, Bob Bird, Dana Vranic, Viv Moore and Christopher Stanton)
At Factory Theatre until Jan. 18
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The Next Stage Festival is showcasing an ambitious production of The Rake’s Progress. The eight original 18th century paintings and lithographs by William Hogarth, which collectively depicted a young nobleman’s fall into dissolution, inspired Stravinsky’s 1951 opera. Autumn Smith and Cathy Murphy have adapted the W.H. Auden/Chester Kallman opera libretto into an impressive stage play, with some invention of their own.

Grant Hutchinson’s imaginative set focuses on a large, moveable frame which reminds the audience of the original paintings. The identical men’s breeches and women’s long skirts also evoke period. The language is distant and poetic. Smith’s direction is economical and to the point.

Bruce Beaton as Nick Shadow and David Christo as Tom Rakewell lead a ten-member cast. The acting might be uneven, but The Rake’s Progress is absorbing theatre that is rendered with exquisite care. It deserves a shelf life.

The Rake’s Progress continues at Factory Theatre as part of the Next Stage Festival until Jan. 18.

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