Theater Review: Posterity

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Nashville Rep delivers one of its finest dramatic works with this regional premiere that came from its Ingram New Works Project.

Nashville Repertory Theatre presents:
Posterity (Feb. 11 – 25; Ages 14 and older)
TPAC’s Johnson Theater
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • nashvillerep.org
Show times: Wed – Thu 6:30 p.m., Fri 7:30 p.m., Sat 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 – $55

While Doug Wright’s Posterity makes its regional premiere on Nashville Rep’s stage this month, it first made itself known in Nashville three years ago. Wright is a former Ingram New Works Project Fellow with Nashville Rep. In January 2014, the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning playwright (I Am My Own Wife) brought the first draft of his fellowship play to the table for a reading with a few of Nashville’s prominent actors.

The following May, a reading of Posterity took place for an audience during the Ingram Festival. Now, you have the wonderful opportunity to experience the well-crafted, thought-provoking theatrical gem in its fruition.

Wright’s play is set in 1901’s Norway’s capital city of Kristiania, now known as Oslo. The play centers on two main historical characters: Henrik Ibsen, the famous Norwegian playwright (also known as the “Father of Modern Drama”) and Gustav Vigeland, Norway’s most esteemed sculptor and creator of the world’s largest sculpture park in Oslo’s Frogner Park. An interesting side note, the Nobel Peace Prize medal is also Vigeland’s handiwork.

Nashville Rep veterans Chip Arnold (Ibsen) and Patrick Waller (Vigeland) lead the cast that also includes Ruth Cordell (Greta Bergstrom), Bobby Wyckoff (Sophus Larpent) and newcomer Daniel Mark Collins (Anfinn Beck).

Chip Arnold as Henrik Ibsen in Nashville Rep’s “Posterity.” Photo by Michael Scott Evans.

Pondering Posterity

The theme of Posterity centers around the legacy one leaves behind, and Wright’s approach is spectacular.

Ibsen’s at the end of his career and subsequently nearing the end of his life. In contrast, Vigeland is in his prime and nearing the height of his career. The heated banter between the two artists strongly resonates with audience members. After all, don’t we all ponder the significance of our lives and how the world will remember us after we’re gone? The juxtaposition of the two characters is a fascinating experience as Ibsen looks back while Vigeland focuses on future achievements.

In this role, Arnold solidifies his status as one of Nashville’s finest actors. With much skill, he shifts Ibsen’s brazen egocentric self to the decrepit reality of truth unraveling as his character journeys toward death.

A Fine Dramatic Offering

The deep contemplation of “How will I be remembered?” is at the forefront in Act II when Inbsen glides into confession mode, revealing a lifetime of dark, dirty secrets. Arnold masterfully plays this emotional trauma pulling the audience into the painful depths of Ibsen’s past. From vanity to insecurity to the freedom that comes from honesty, Arnold gives it his all. The result is one of Nahsville Rep’s finest dramatic offerings.

In addition, Waller packs a punch with his extraordinary portrayal of the sculptor’s desperate hour. He, too, does a fantastic job on the emotional pendulum that swings from anger and contempt to compassion and mercy.

Wyckoff, Cordell and Collins deliver most of the play’s comic moments, which Wright drops in at appropriate intervals throughout the work.

One thing’s certain about Nashville Rep’s tremendous production of Posterity: it will leave you with a lot of thought-provoking conversation of your own life’s legacy.

 

Featured picture: Patrick Waller and Ruth Cordell in Nashville Rep’s Posterity. Photo by Michael Scott Evans.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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