Picture your biggest fight—a big-time fallout with a friend or loved one. Now, put it all in the same room at the same time, with a reputation in a high-stakes industry like, say, fashion, up for grabs. With his presentation of Moliere’s The Misanthrope, running for two more nights at Bryant-Lake Bowl, that’s what director Adrian Balbontin has sought to do.
Exposing the backstabbing brutality that supposed friends will do to get ahead on the societal scale, there’s no more suitable place to transport this Molière comedy than to a contemporary New York fashion circle. Your most trusted allies, as only misanthropic designer Alceste seems to understand, might be the first to cut you down for a step in status. Curated with live act transitions from the music of Beirut, Balbontin meshes music performance, art, and traditional theater without trepidation. It’s all about exposing the people of this artist community, he says, from costume to character. The Misanthrope continues tonight and tomorrow at Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater.
End of show, the backstabbing is absent with this crew. The lead, Sam Pearson (unanimously named the hardest-working guy they know), is off to a rehearsal for his next play. In town only for the winter break, Devon Cox, who plays the femme fatale Celimene, returns to New York next week to start a play and finish out her senior year in Ithaca College’s Musical Theatre program. Nathan Gebhard, citing this as his most active winter performance schedule in memory, enjoys a quiet conversation about British TV series over a drink with the cast. The sunset backdrop of a local artist is up for sale, the music’s played for tips, and Balbontin, a transplant from California and Lookingglass Theater in Chicago, slates his directorial debut—one that says, “I’m here. Say what you will about my work. At least I’m going out honest.”