Richland Players address today's politics with 131-year-old play

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldOctober 30, 2013 

Enemy of the People

Amy Lynne Darling, left, Nathan Dirkmaat and Alan Tindell rehearse a scene from the Richland Players production of Enemy of the People.

PAUL T. ERICKSON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

An Enemy of the People may have been written 131 years ago, but the play's plot could easily come from today's headlines.

"This is a great play to be performing in America now, with partisan political bickering bringing the country to a standstill," said Richland Players director Richard Reuther. "It is an interesting vehicle to reflect on."

He said it's a timely production considering the current state of politics in the country.

The theater troupe is performing Arthur Miller's stage adaptation, An Enemy of the People, starting Nov. 1 at the Players Theatre in Richland.

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote the play in 1882 after the uproar over his scandalous play Ghosts, which referred to syphilis and challenged the hypocrisy of Victorian morality.

Ibsen, who was Danish, was crucified by the press for his edgy topic in Ghosts and felt betrayed by the bad reviews, Reuther said.

When Ibsen's plays turned a more realistic eye to societal problems, he discovered the community didn't want to be examined so closely.

Miller adapted Ibsen's play in 1950. The story follows characters from a small town who are trying to promote tourism through the area's therapeutic hot springs and unspoiled nature.

But the town's doctor discovers that the spa is being contaminated by a local tanning mill.

When he brings the problem to the attention of the town fathers, they spurn his concerns, saying the cleanup would be too expensive and destroy the town's reputation.

When the doctor presses on about the potential harm to tourists, the town brands him an enemy of the state.

Nathan Dirkmaat plays Dr. Stockmann. Other key players are Amy Lynne Darling as Catherine, Annika Rose Rex as Petra, Hugh Roberts as Kiil, Alan Tindel as Peter, Sergio Bueno as Hovstad, Will Thurston as Aslaksen, Shawn Robinson as Billing, Brandon Harbo as Ejlif, Zachary Chandler as Morten and Patrick McBurney Jr. as Horster.

An Enemy of the People runs Nov. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16. Curtain is 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Nov. 10 and 17. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 students and seniors.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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