MOM’S NIGHT OUT: ANTHEM Ayn Rand: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

 ANTHEM is the story of a young man, EQUALITY 7-2521, who is born into a future world that has banished all individuality. Not satisfied with a world lighted by candles, EQUALITY fosters his love of discovery in an abandoned subway, a relic of the past. In solitude, EQUALITY rediscovers electricity and a new source of light. Above ground he meets and falls in love with LIBERTY 5-3000, committing a further “sin of preference.”

The cast of ANTHEM includes: Matthew Leiff Christian as Equality, Lelund Durond Thompson as International, Tina Johnson as Old Woman, and Sofia Lauwers as Liberty. Sarah Walker Thornton & Alex Teicheira make up the ensemble.

Directed by Ann Ciccolella, artistic director of the Austin Shakespeare Theatre Company, ANTHEM has set design by Kevin Judge, Costume Design by Theresa Squire, Lighting Design by Jason Amato and Sound Design by Anthony Mattana.

Since its full American publication in 1961, ANTHEM by Ayn Rand is a classic that has sold more than 5 million copies.

Originally produced by Austin Shakespeare in 2011, ANTHEM‘s Off-Broadway staging coincides with the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the novel’s publication. It is playing at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (450 W. 37th Street) for a limited ten-week run through December 1, 2013.

Fans of Rand, and there are many, will kvell at this staging, particularly since it has stayed so true to her words.  But, for that very same reason, it is challenging to get through because it presents more exposition than action. Actors valiantly toil away at the heavy-laden dialogue, thereby perpetuating little pace or action.

The real strength of this play comes from the stirring lighting and multi-media presentation. Written by Jeff Britting, the curator of the Ayn Rand archives at the Ayn Rand Institute, he participated in a talk back after the performance I saw, and his delight in the coming of this production was palpable. However earnest his adaptation attempt, there is a lot to be said of showing vs. telling, as evidenced by the striking visuals. If only the characters followed suit, the ambitious 90 minute production would have been all the more compelling.



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