New Fortune Theatre Company's Production of Public Enemy Gifts San Diego A West Coast Premiere that Will Take Audiences

Through a Heated Debate in a Labyrinth of Bureaucracy and Bad Politics 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

New Fortune Public Enemy (Richard Baird, Walter Murray, Geoffrey Ulysses Geissinger, Amanda Schaar) photo by Bryan Baird

As I have mentioned in interviews before, many are not aware that San Diego is a rich source of theatre. Like an incubator for things that go to Broadway, Chicago, Washington, and so on as well as a place that produces the classics, the new, and the commissioned providing a wonderful variety for the stage. 

New Fortune Theatre Company honoring its mission to bring plays that have not been produced in San Diego debuts the West Coast premiere of Public Enemy. An adaptation by David Harrower from the Norwegian playwright Henrik Johan Ibsen's play, An Enemy of the People. 

New Fortune's Founder Richard Baird as well as portraying the role of Dr. Thomas Stockmann is also directing the piece with a company of 10 actors. Stockmann is the chief medical officer of the baths in a public spa and finds out the water is poisoned. In an effort to be honest and make things right, he aims to warn the town and its tourism but that will come at a high cost through different interests like the Mayor, Thomas's brother Peter Stockmann (Nick Kennedy) and shareowners of the touristic attraction like his father in law Morten (Danny Campbell). The doctor writes an essay about the terrible situation and wants it published in the town's liberal paper “The Reformer” because "truth is a living thing. It evolves or it grows stale"...Things get messy and dark quick as the labyrinth of bureaucracy, bad politics, and personal interest take over.

As the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Point Loma houses the play, the auditorium like seating is the perfect setting for Dr. Stockmann's last resort, a town hall-ish public speech/debate that unfolds while holding a microphone and having the audience interact as judge and jury. The adaptation is filled with powerful phrases that are as painful as they are current like "The battle of the masses will always drown the voice of reason" or "Brutality is inherent to humans and barbarism".

Kimberly Weinberger and Trevor Cruse in New Fortune Theatre’s “Public Enemy.”
Photo Bryan Baird.

San Diego as well as being a rich source of theatre, has great gems, and among them is Richard Baird. Any piece this man is involved with, will have passion and powerful delivery. His directorial effort is just the same as the portrayals of the different members of the cast like Kimberly Weinberger as the doctor's daughter and right hand, Petra Stockmann who almost falls into newspaper leader Hovstad's (Trevor Cruse) entanglement, is potently focused. Trevor is serious and malicious as Hovstad which is a nice contrast from when I saw him last as the actor fanatic/starting-out playwright Roland Maule in Cygnet's Present Laughter. The histrionic dynamic between him and Weinberger is tense! bringing great scenes to the performance. Nick Daugherty too plays well in mentioned dynamic as snack-obsessed Billing who also works at the paper. As an added observation, the hairography that both Daugherty and Baird give throughout the performance, is out of this world. Each set of hair has its own marks.

This play was written in 1882 and eventhough Harrower's adaptation stays loyal, the conversation is current as it is crucial. New Fortune with this production of Public Enemy is like that added spice that bites but you cannot have enough. A great seasoning to San Diego's current theatre offering. Not only does it bear entertainment value, but conversation and reflection about citizens as voters and who the real decision-makers are. 

Does voting really lead to the graveyard of civilization?

Currently playing until July 2, tickets range from $10 to $30 dollars. For more information on performance dates and times please click here . And to get the emtion going, check out a promo of their rehearsal process here

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