Artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah took the stage before last night’s production of An Enemy of the People at Center Stage and told the audience that cast member Jimi Kinstle, who had been playing the Drunk, could not appear due to a family emergency. Kwei-Armah, who’s directing Arthur Miller’s adaptation of the Ibsen classic, said actor Thom Sinn stepped up and assured him he had the experience to handle the role. With the timing of a stand-up comedian, Kwei-Armah got a few laughs by pausing a few beats and letting folks wonder if Sinn was referring to experience on the stage or on the sauce. Then, he noted that Sinn had never played the role and urged the crowd to show him some love.
When Sinn appeared in a pivotal and dramatic scene in the second act, he did a great job, and you’d never suspect he was a last minute replacement. That is, until he exited the stage, and the audience burst into applause and showed him plenty of love. Sinn will likely continue in the role for the next two nights, and Kinstle is expected to return for Friday’s performance.
Enemy is Kwei-Armah’s first play as artistic director, and he couldn’t have chosen a more topical and timely story. It dovetails perfectly with the presidential campaign and resonates on a variety of levels thanks to his lively direction, nuanced performances from the actors, Riccardo Hernández’s amazing set, and Alex Koch’s video design. The use of technology subtly enhances the action and provides, at times, sly commentary on our media-drenched culture. Enemy closes this Sunday and comes very highly recommended.
[Photo: Richard Anderson]