ACT’s Theatre’s ‘Alki’ tries to pack in too much

  • By Mike Murray / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, June 17, 2004 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

SEATTLE – “Alki,” the season-opening production of ACT Theatre, is enduring and frustrating.

There’s much to like about this offbeat production, a stage adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s poetic fantasy “Peer Gynt” relocated from Norway to the rugged Northwest of the mid- to late-1880s.

Peer Gynt is a lyin’ con man of epic proportions, and his strange odyssey is told in rich detail. But playwright Eric Overmyer has overloaded this clever comedy-drama with scenes and dialogue, and it veers at times into tedium because of it.

The sets and costumes are a delight and the staging inventive. The acting is uniformly good, with a cast of 13 portraying more than 50 characters, driven by the peerless performance by R. Hamilton Wright as Peer Gynt, the selfish, greed-driven wastrel who knows only one kind of lie to tell: a whopper.

Overmyer, a Seattle native, has infused “Alki” with instantly recognizable visual references of the Pacific Northwest that evoke smiles of recognition.

Slides projected on a screen behind the stage take us on a whirlwind tour of our history: there’s Seattle during the sawmill days of Skid Row, there’s J.P. Patches, there’s the monorail, there’s a traffic jam on I-5. Isn’t that the troll statute under the Freemont Bridge?

And in a very funny bit, we see the image of a grinning Peer Gynt superimposed on some famous historic scenes of Seattle, surrounded by dour-faced early residents.

Ibsen, who wrote “Peer Gynt” in 1867 and adapted it for the stage in 1876, relied on Norwegian fairy tales for his poetic narrative.

In director Kurt Beattie’s “Alki,” Peer Gynt travels a gritty, greed-driven path strewn with weird love stories and broken hearts, get-rich schemes gone bust, lies and bigger lies and even the shrunken heads of his enemies, served up by an accommodating tribe of Amazon Indians.

When this show flies, it’s an exhilarating ride. But Overmyer has packed so much into “Alki,” that at two hours and 30 minutes it begins to feel like a marathon for the actors.

Peer Gynt ends his journey a changed man. Some judicious cutting and editing would make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.

Review

“Alki”: At ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, through June 27. Tickets, $15-$54, 202-292-7676, www.acttheatre.org.

Review

“Alki”: ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, through June 27. $15-$54, 202-292-7676, www.acttheatre.org.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Carrie Compton clips leaves from the plants for sale at Houseplants Galore on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The great indoors: Houseplants to bring in a touch of spring

At Houseplants Galore in Everett, discover rare and beautiful plant specimens grown with care.

Cameron Hewitt
Switzerland's Lauterbrunnen Valley looks pastoral but it hides a powerful dose of natural wonder.
Rick Steves’ Europe: In the Swiss Alps, the laws of nature rule

The travel guru learned to respect the power of nature in the shadow of Switzerland’s towering Jungfrau.

Inside Elle Marie Hair Studio in Smokey Point. (Provided by Acacia Delzer)
The best hair salon in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied. Here are the results.

For more than a thousand years, Czech leaders – from kings and emperors to Nazis, communists, and presidents – have ruled from Prague Castle, regally perched on a hill above the Vltava River. Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli
Rick Steves’ Europe: History lives in Prague and its hilltop castle

It’s one of Europe’s best-preserved cities, having been spared from last century’s bombs.

Alarm clock in the middle of the night insomnia or dreaming
Trouble sleeping? Try these tips for getting a good night’s rest

Many adults turn to sleep aids, including alcohol, to help them rest, without realizing that their hectic lifestyles may be contributing to their sleeplessness.

The Stumbling Fiddler Band is scheduled to perform March 3 in Everett. (Photo provided by Port Gardner Bay Music Society)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day with music by the Stumbling Fiddler Band in Everett.

I was charged an extra $250 for a mistaken car rental upgrade

When Leah Page picks up her rental car from Thrifty, it charges her a $250 upgrade fee. Can it do this without her permission, and how can she get a refund?

Naomi Jacobson as Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer in "Becoming Dr. Ruth" at Village Theatre in Everett. (Auston James)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

“Becoming Dr. Ruth,” which tells the sex therapist’s amazing back story, is now showing at Village Theatre in Everett.

Over 200 years, the magic lantern transformed into an educational peacock

Regarded as magic in the 1650s, this device was refined into the more scientific sounding sciopticon by the mid-1800s.

Market for sale plants. Many plants in pots
Snohomish Garden Club plans annual plant sale

The event is scheduled for April 27 at Swan’s Trail Farms. Proceeds will go to scholarships.

Start planting now so you can stop to smell your own roses all summer long

Late winter to early spring is perfect for planting roses. And with so many varieties to consider, there’s no time to waste.

The 2024 Mazda3 hatchback. (Mazda)
2024 Mazda3 adds a Carbon Turbo trim and more safety features

The charismatic compact is available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.