Limelight Theatre Brings Arthur Miller Play to St. Augustine with ‘An Enemy of the People’

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW

Limelight Theatre Brings Arthur Miller Play to St. Augustine with 'An Enemy of the People'

St. Augustine’s Limelight Theatre opened “An Enemy of the People,” on January 11, which runs through February 3, 2019 on the Matuza Mainstage. The theatre is located at 11 Old Mission Avenue; ample free parking is available. Visit limelight-theatre.org or call 904-825-1164 for reservations.

The play, written by Arthur Miller in 1950, is adapted from Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama, which was written in 1882. And although the original was written over a century ago, the themes remain relevant. How can you warn of danger when being pressured to remain silent? Protect your family from retaliation? Deal with mob violence? Don’t expect a staid period piece; Limelight’s production includes contemporary references.

The play is sponsored by the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, based in Fruit Cove, Florida. Stetson Kennedy (1916 – 2011) was a well-known author, activist, environmentalist, and folklorist; the foundation continues his mission.

The setting is a small Norwegian town where Dr. Thomas Stockmann (brilliantly portrayed by Sebastian Conte in his Limelight debut) resides with his family; he is the town’s medical officer. The town has recently built a health spa which the residents expect will become very popular – and very profitable – in the near future. Officials and businessmen are eager to begin marketing the attraction throughout the region. Unfortunately, Dr. Stockmann has discovered the spa waters are contaminated with microorganisms and toxins that are injurious to health, and he’s prepared an article about this threat for publication in the local paper. Major construction will be needed to make the resort safe for visitors. He is elated about his discovery, as he knows that he has protected the health of many others.

Peter, who is Tom’s older brother and the town’s mayor, is opposed to publicizing Tom’s findings, because if the contamination becomes public knowledge, it will harm the city economically. The role is played convincingly by former Florida State University actor Trey Stripling.

Limelight Theatre Brings Arthur Miller Play to St. Augustine with 'An Enemy of the People'

The mayor’s stance is backed by Hovstad, the editor of the town’s newspaper, who is portrayed by Kyle Reeves. He appeared in several Shakespeare productions while a student at the University of North Florida and has also appeared in roles at ABET and The 5 & Dime.  And the doctor hears from other disapproving townspeople, who include his father-in-law Morton Kiil (Lou Agresta), journalist Billing (James Fellows), and printer Aslaksen (Bob Mandzi). He does have one friend in Captain Horster (Brad Cooper), a shipmaster who plans to sail to America in the near future.

A public meeting is held at Captain Horster’s home with all parties present and additional townspeople, two of them represented by William Beaman and Elaine Sullivan appear intoxicated and are disruptive. The audience reacts to the doctor’s address with loud protests and as he leaves the meeting, they declare him an “enemy of the people.”

In the morning, Tom’s family members awaken to find broken window panes and rocks in their living room. The family includes Tom’s wife Katherine (Heather Eggleston), his two young sons Ejlif (Elijah D’Elena) and Morten (Mac Jones), and his daughter Petra (Mary Schubert), who has been fired from her teaching job.

How this ends we will leave for you to discover. The cast was splendidly directed by St. Augustine High School theatre instructor Mike Beaman, who adds another gem to two other excellent Limelight shows he has directed: “Fool for Love” and “Hedda Gabler.” He is a fine actor as well, with a recent appearance as the Emcee in Limelight’s recent production of “Cabaret.”

Limelight Theatre Brings Arthur Miller Play to St. Augustine with 'An Enemy of the People'

A restricted pallet of black, gray, and white was used for the set and for the costumes by Beth Lambert – and the effect was stunning.

Applause goes to all the crew members, who included Nikki Liberatore (Stage Manager), Domenic Grasso (Scenic Designer), Nancy Grasso (Lead Scenic Painter), Carl Liberatore (Lighting Designer), and Shelli Long (Properties Mistress).

The talkback session we attended with many others after the Sunday Matinee was lively and informative.

If this review has stimulated an intrigue in Stetson Kennedy, you will find interesting biographical information on the internet. To start, visit www.stetsonkenney.com. Oral historian Studs Terkel once affirmed that “with half a dozen Stetson Kennedys, we can transform our society into one of truth, grace and beauty …”

Kennedy would have approved of Limelight’s production.

fri11jan(jan 11)7:30 pmsun03feb(feb 3)10:00 pmFeaturedAn Enemy of the People7:30 pm - (february 3) 10:00 pm Limelight Theatre

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

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