August Strindberg’s late-nineteenth-century examination of class wars and sexual politics has been given an electrified working-over by The Hypocrites, in a new adaptation from Sean Graney (who also directs). Graney continues his exploration of the promenade-style seen in other recent productions from the company, practically daring the audience to get face to face with the action—not to mention the spit, the sweat and the (fake) blood—as flirtation between the impetuous lady of the house, Miss Julie (Stacy Stoltz), and Jean (Gregory Hardigan), the estate’s charmingly punctilious valet, Jean, spirals into debauchery. The cast—which includes Samantha Gleisten as Kristin, the cook (and Jean’s betrothed)—is magnificent, imbuing each moment with skillfully nuanced urgency and danger that turns on a dime from ambiguously veiled to desperately immediate. While the ambitious maneuver of keeping the audience on their feet, invited to move at will around and through Marcus Stevens’s undeniably artful set—full of crafty reveals—gives an exciting perspective to the viewer, at times it creates a (perhaps superfluous) barrier as well. What in theory could be a shoulder-to-shoulder audience love fest in reality demands strategic positioning (or uncomfortable craning) to ensure one doesn’t miss a moment of this explosive and thrilling production. (Valerie Jean Johnson)
At the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, (773)278-1500. This production is now closed.