You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Fourposter

"The Fourposter" makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe's mission, Jan de Hartog's 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple's marriage.

Cast:
Michael - Todd Weeks Agnes - Jessica Dickey

“The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of a museum piece than the script.

Granted, the writing does have musty moments. The play unfolds in Michael (Todd Weeks) and Agnes’ (Jessica Dickey) bedroom between 1890 and 1915, and there are quaint references to cloth nightcaps and cod liver oil. The dialogue, too, has the stiff formality of vintage American dramas. On their first night in their wedding bed, Michael asks Agnes if she’s cold, and her stilted reply is “Heavens, no. I’m simply boiling. And you?”

Still, these people have passion beneath their long cotton underwear. There are threats of divorce, confessions of affairs, and one disturbing scene where Michael plans to beat their son with a riding crop while Agnes fumes over a lie the boy told her several years before. Later, like a suburban Nora Helmer, Agnes gets an eloquent speech about why marriage makes her feel trapped, and Michael, a famous author, icily dissects why she needs to love a struggling artist instead of a successful one.

These fights usually end with frantic kisses, as the lovebirds realize they need each other after all.

Yet for all this heat, the production is aggressively polite. Unless they’re smooching, Weeks and Dickey keep a genteel distance, and they speak in strangely high-pitched voices, as though terrified of sounding base. Both perfs become caricatures of the early 20th century, all perfect posture and starched linen, and so they miss the play’s genuine feeling. 

 In this summer’s New York Intl. Fringe Festival, Dickey had fierce intensity in the play “The Amish Project,” and Weeks has done textured work in Atlantic Theater Company productions like “The Voysey Inheritance,” so it’s likely Lawrence pushed them in this brittle direction.

 Likewise, the designs are competent but unexciting. In the 1890 scene, for instance, Sandra Goldmark’s set has just the right water basin, yet the room is too perfectly neat, like it’s stuck behind a velvet rope. De Hartog’s play begs for a bedroom where basins can get smashed, and for actors who might throw them any second.

The Fourposter

Theater Row/Clurman; 99 seats; $41.25 top

Production: A Keen Company presentation of a play in three acts by Jan de Hartog. Directed by Blake Lawrence.

Crew: Sets, Sandra Goldmark; costumes, Theresa Squire; lighting, Josh Bradford; sound, Jill BC DuBoff; fight direction, Paul Molnar; production stage manager, Jess Johnston. Opened Oct. 19, 2008. Reviewed Oct. 16. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.

With: Michael - Todd Weeks Agnes - Jessica Dickey

More Film

  • The Kids Are Given a Mission

    The Kids Are Given a Mission in New 'A Wrinkle In Time' Trailer

    “The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of […]

  • Justice League

    China Box Office: ‘Justice League’ Makes $52 Million Debut

    “The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of […]

  • 'Lady Bird,' 'Three Billboards' Fly High,

    'Lady Bird,' 'Three Billboards' Fly High, Netflix Mum on 'Mudbound' Results

    “The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of […]

  • get out Oscar Race

    'Get Out' and the Golden Globes: A Lesson Not to Laugh At

    “The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of […]

  • Justice League

    Box Office: 'Justice League' Scores $185 Million International Opening, Led by China

    “The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of […]

  • 'Justice League' Opens With Gloomy $96

    Box Office: 'Justice League' Opens With Gloomy $96 Million in North America

    “The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of […]

  • Viacom Halts 'Padmavati' Release After Religious

    Viacom Halts 'Padmavati' Release After Religious Uproar

    “The Fourposter” makes perfect sense for Keen Company. In accordance with the troupe’s mission, Jan de Hartog’s 1951 dramedy is both sincere and sophisticated, wittily tracking 35 years in a couple’s marriage. Director Blake Lawrence, however, gets so enamored of the play’s period setting she fails to tap its honesty. Her production is more of […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content