One of the hottest tickets of Fringe this fall is Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s production of AFTER THE REHEARSAL/PERSONA, adapted from the Ingmar Bergman’s scripts of the same names. The 23rd Street Armory venue makes the ticket hot more than metaphorically speaking, so prepare to sweat as you ponder the meaning of art, reality and life.
Director Ivo van Hove’s reimagining of the Bergman classics is full of visual and interpretative ideas, but lacks overarching purpose. Putting together 180 minutes of theater combined of two plays is a decision that requires more reasoning than loose thematic connections, and AFTER THE REHEARSAL/PERSONA seems more like seeing two plays for the price of one than a coherent whole. AFTER THE REHEARSAL is performed first and suits the direction better with its straightforwardness and theater setting, while PERSONA, performed after the intermission, runs out of steam just when the drama should intensify. The play’s audiovisual tricks are nothing new in contemporary theater, but they are well executed and impressive. Combined with good to excellent acting from all three lead actors, Gaite Jansen (Anna, Alma), Frieda Pittoors (Rachel, Elisabeth) and Marieke Heebink (Hendrik, Elisabeth’s husband), the production is worth sweating through even if it doesn’t quite have the complexity and coherence of its source material. [23rd Street Armory, 22 South 23rd Street] September 3-5, 2015; fringearts.comafter-the-rehearsal-persona.