Adapting Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” (1972) to the stage seems a little like translating Shakespeare into Basic English. You might learn a lot from the exercise, but you’d be leaving behind something vital. Not many films rely as centrally on the fact that they are films as “The Conversation”: it exploits the then-current technology of visual and sound reproduction in Harry Caul’s painstaking quest to reproduce a couple’s mysterious colloquy in the heart of San Francisco, even as the editing equipment strewn about Caul’s warehouse office and mysterious invocations of “The Director” who has bought Caul’s services underline the analogies between Caul’s work and the process of moviemaking. In Pyewacket Theatre’s current production, then, director Kenneth Lee and adaptor Kate Harris succeed admirably in maintaining the dramatic core of the story—Caul’s disenchantment with his profession—while conveying the moody paranoia of Coppola’s film. All the same, stripped of its filmic pyrotechnics, the story’s flaws loom larger. The various mechanisms of guilt that bedevil Caul seem both contrived and heavy-handed. And the final revelations are handled so obliquely, and emerge so quickly, that if I hadn’t seen the film, I think I would have been utterly bewildered. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.