Northwest NEWS

August 13, 2001

Entertainment

'Dying Gaul' is a modern tragedy of mythic proportions

by Deborah Stone
   Intiman Theatre continues its 2001 season with "The Dying Gaul," a provocative modern tragedy written by Craig Lucas and directed by Intiman Theatre Artistic Director Bartlett Sher.
   This psychological suspense-thriller makes for riveting drama as it tells a tale of money, power and seduction, played out in the worlds of Hollywood film moguls and Internet chat rooms.
   It is the story of loss, of the consequences of grief and of the emotional limits of love within a triangle of relationships between a film producer, a young screenwriter and the producer's wife.
   The screenwriter, Robert, (Jay Goede), still raw with anguish and guilt over the recent death of his lover and agent, Malcolm, comes under the spell of Hollywood film-studio exec Jeffrey (Laurence Ballard) who offers him a million dollars for his screenplay, "The Dying Gaul."
   The condition to this agreement is that Robert rewrite the story, changing the central characters from gay men to a heterosexual couple.
   Robert, after some hesitation, agrees, succumbing to Jeffrey's financial and sexual seductions. The evil and immoral Jeffrey wants Robert, body and soul, and proceeds to corrupt him, using a combination of charm and outrageous behavior.
   Enter Jeffrey's discontented wife, Elaine ( Myra Platt), who decides to embark on her own seduction of Robert via the Internet.
   Her subsequent actions, which can be viewed as having both good and bad intentions, play havoc on Robert's already fragile state of mind. Robert's calm and rational therapist, Dr. Foss (David Pichette), tries to instill Buddhist precepts into him as a way to help Robert deal with his grief and get on with his life.
   From time to time, Robert recites these spiritual lessons, proclaiming their wisdom about human nature; however, by the end of the story, they ironically twist themselves into self-justifications for his fiendish actions.
   The play begins to spiral, slowly gaining momentum, as events spin out of control and the characters begin their descent into moral decay, eventually taking one another over the edge, each into his/her own emotional, free-fall.
   Goede, as Robert, gives a commanding performance that conveys the mercurial temperament of his character.
   He goes from despair and passivity to rage and determination, convincingly proving that evil can grow from sorrow and guilt.
   Goede is masterful in his ability to portray Robert's compelling downward spiral with a chilling eeriness. Ballard attacks the role of Jeffrey with gusto and zest, relishing his character's sleaziness and amoral qualities. He presents Jeffrey as a skillful seducer to innocent prey, capable of getting everything he desires; yet, when he falls from his pedestal, he is able to show the audience the anguish of human suffering.
   Platt brings depth to the role of Elaine, showing her character's progression of emotions as the wife who comes to grips with the unfortunate marital bargain she has made with her husband.
   Sets by Andrew Jackness take the actors down a maze of pathways created by movable doorframes.
   On either side of the stage are lush beds of herbs and in the center is a mini pool sunken into the floor.
   The lighting by Mary Louise Geiger and sound by Stephen LeGrand lend a spooky and sinister quality to the show. "The Dying Gaul" closes on Aug. 18.
   Opening Aug. 24 is Ibsen's "The Lady from the Sea," directed by Kate Whoriskey.
   For ticket information call (206) 269-1900.