AISLE SAY Florida
by Stephen King
Adapted by Simon Moore
Directed by Seth Barrish
Starring David Breitbarth & Devora Millman
Asolo Repertory Theatre in the Cook Theatre, 941-351-8000
FSU Center for Performing Arts, Sarasota, Oct. 30-Dec. 9, 2007
Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker
So what if you read the book and saw the movie. You must experience the grand, living performance of David Breitbarth as romantic fiction writer Paul Sheldon. Together with Jeffrey Dean's perfect rustically claustrophobic living room, converted into a sick room, Breitbarth/Sheldon personifies misery unparalleled. Devora Millman's turn at being big bad Annie, self-described as Sheldon's #1 fan, isn't at all bad. In fact, unlike Kathy Bates in the film, Millman's Annie registers unlikeable from the get-go. She has nowhere to go but get physical, and it works fine. Breitbarth, on the other hand, runs the gamut from feel-good flattered (smiling) to painful shattered (screaming). From having his good script burned to being forced to write a hokey one and be dependent, he makes you share his torture. In the end, tapping a plastic leg, he's curiously smug. You'll have loved as much as feared for him, hoping for return of that winning smile.
Director Seth Barrish seems at home with Grand Guignol, never letting actors or action get static. Setting the crippling scene in near-dark helps make it bearable. A no-holds-barred fight staged by Tiza Garland is realistic enough to make you fear for the combatants. James D. Sale's meets the lighting challenges but Edward Cosla's sound design at times reminds more of a fun house rather than a mystery melodrama. And Millman can't always be heard. Nicole Bartet's costumes proved equally proper for the play and its Halloween opening.
Stage Manager: Marian Wallace. Time: 2 hrs., 10 mins. w/intermission.