Agnes Eggling can’t bear to leave her Berlin apartment: the light, the space and for the rent she’s paying? Never mind the rise of the Nazis to power, the periodic visits by the mysterious old crone demanding food, or the lingering effects of a visit by the Devil. Agnes isn’t even fazed by the incessant, eye-glazing arguments over psychoanalysis and Communism staged by her roving band of Bohemian friends as they drain her prominently placed liquor cabinet. Audiences of Tony Kushner’s early play, currently produced by Speaking Ring, might feel differently. Kushner’s never displayed the strongest sense of dramatic momentum; his real gift is for breaking the surfaces of his plays with eruptions of otherworldly energy. The most effective moment in “Bright Room,” the demonic conjuration that closes the first act, suggests the power that Kushner would later famously exploit. But the rest of the play drags on, its present-day narration awkward and increasingly dated. Speaking Ring’s cast does a solid job. Continually on the verge of delivering “as a” statements (“as a Trotskyist,” “as a gay man fighting for sexual liberation,” “as a weak-willed opium addict”), they fill out their roles with genuine humanity, but can’t quite overcome the play’s torpor. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.