This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



(photo by Stephanie Berger)

Wrenn Schmidt and John Turturro try to build an unusual relationship in Andrei Belgrader’s new version of 1892 Ibsen play (photo by Stephanie Berger)

Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton St. between Ashland & Rockwell Pl.
Through June 9, $25-$90

A stark coldness pervades Andrei Belgrader’s new version of Henrik Ibsen’s most autobiographical play, The Master Builder. Collaborating once again with John Turturro — the two previously worked together on a terrific production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at BAM in 2008 and on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at Classic Stage this past fall/winter, Belgrader uses David Edgar’s recent streamlined, modernized translation in telling the story of a star Norwegian architect who knows how to build buildings but can’t manage to keep his life from falling apart around him. Turturro plays the title character, Halvard Solness, a mean-spirited, philandering megalomaniac who is refusing to allow his dying mentor, Knut Brovik (Julian Gamble), the opportunity to see his architect son, Ragnar (Max Gordon Moore), succeed in any way before the father dies. Halvard also flirts terribly with his secretary, Kaja Fosli (Kelly Hutchinson), even though she is engaged to Ragnar. Meanwhile, Halvard’s wife, Aline (Katherine Borowitz, Turturro’s real-life wife), wanders through Santo Loquasto’s latticed-metal set like a ghost, never having recovered from a family tragedy. “I am the way I am. I can’t remake myself,” Halvard says at one point, but he does go through a change upon the arrival of Hilde Wangel (Wrenn Schmidt), a sexy fairy-tale-like nymph who claims that Halvard promised himself to her ten years earlier, when she was a mere thirteen. He is of course smitten with her, leading to yet more complications. But just as Halvard clearly differentiates between “a house, but not a home,” this Master Builder never climbs the heights it aspires to. Turturro is too blustery and Schmidt (Katie Roche, Boardwalk Empire) too chirpy (and chippy), while the production as a whole never quite develops a solid foundation, its structure too loose and disconnected, in need of some further construction.

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