Eugene O'Neill's story, “Anna Christie” (directed by Peter Richards) is the tale of a young woman who returns to the town where her father lives to get away from some unpleasantness in her past and accompanies him on his barge where she finds love and has to grapple with her role as a woman of her time along with the expectations of both her father and her love. Can you say “relevant?” How many women are still judged for the things Anna finds herself being denigrated for and forced to survive in a world where a man certainly won't take care of them nor look out for their best interests?
I absolutely love this venue. The Wild Project is set up in a space with raised seating as you go up in the rows and is a more traditional venue in the midst of apartment buildings in the East Village, an area where you'd be more likely to see something underground and more hipster like. The raised seating is awesome for being able to see a show without having to contort around someone who's taller or has a fatter head. I also appreciate the reserved seating in a portion of the auditorium where I didn't feel like I was being put on the spot or going to be harassed by anyone when I was simply there to write this review.
That being said, the acting in this show was without a doubt superb. I also liked the realistic atmosphere with the fog and cigarette smoking of the early scenes between Anna Christopherson (Therese Plaehn) and Marthy Ownen (Tina Johnson), a lady friend of Anna's father Chris Christopherson (Stephen D'Ambrose). You can definitely see the love Chris has for his daughter though he's absolutely aghast at the horrors Anna has endured by living on the farm and eventually turning to prostitution despite his trying to make life better for her than growing up on the high seas with him.
The end of Anna's story should give womankind some hope. Her prospective fiance, a rescued sailor named Mat Burke (Ben Chase) does eventually accept her for doing what she must to survive, believes that she loves him and that she isn't going to return to her past dealings as a prostitute. I did wonder there since oftentimes in real life, even in today's time, the suitor of a woman who'd been raped by a relative who eventually turns to prostitution in order to survive on her own instead of having to remain in the prison created by her rapist would likely prove to be a liar in claiming to love her.
Of course, one can't forget about the dedicated and sage Johnny-The Priest (Scott Aiello) who keeps our lead characters comfortably satiated with their drinks and listens when they speak. He was definitely accurate as a bartender to where I hope the actors weren't given real alcohol while performing.
This show is definitely worth seeing and if you aren't the type who is sensitive to herbal cigarette smell or water based fog, you will definitely see parallels to your own life if you are a parent, a person who's had to fight for acceptance in life or have had to deal with an older relative who didn't approve of your relationship with his or her offspring/niece or nephew/grandkid/etc. Universal and timeless stories are a hit with me and this show was no exception.