“AUTUMN SONATA” PLAYS AT YALE REPERTORY THEATRE
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
What does it mean to be a parent? It is said that even a dumb animal could have a baby – but that doesn’t mean that it has to love and care for it. In nature, sometimes animals reject their offspring for one reason or another – possibly for survival of the group or individual. It’s only in human beings that this becomes a moral issue. In “Autumn Sonata,” the American premiere of a play based on Ingmar Bergman’s film, we have a brooding, psychological study of a cold, selfish mother who is more interested in her piano career than her daughter.
This serious play brings up some philosophical questions that many may not ordinarily dwell upon unless they have had a similar experience. For example, if this talented mother had sacrificed her career for her children’s sake, would her unhappiness allow her to survive? Would she take her disappointments and frustrations out on her daughter and therefore, would it have made any difference if she opted to accept her role of mother? It may be immoral by society’s standards but should this woman be condemned for choosing to nourish her first love of music and fame instead of raising children? What if it was a father who had to sacrifice his wonderful career for his children -- would he be equally thought of? In this presentation Bergman mainly focuses on a mother/daughter relationship. Unfortunately we are left to ponder, after years of disappointing rejections, why there is still love and hope that people can change.
Directed by Robert Woodruff, Candy Buckley gives an outstanding, emotionally charged performance as the complex mother, “Charlotte” and Rebecca Henderson sensitively enacts her resentful daughter, “Eva.” The elevated scrim, projections and mood lighting by Riccardo Hernandez, Peter Nigrini and Jennifer Tipton enhanced the production.
This is a moody “sonata” but if you like philosophical challenges see it and decide for yourself.
Plays until May 7 YALEREP.ORG/203-432-1234
This review appears in "On Connecticut Theatre" May/2011