"What is to be done?"
The question, posed by Lenin, was the final line of Tony Kushner's Slavs!,which received its New York premiere in December 1994 at New York Theatre Workshop. The question also hangs over the same theatre's current production, the world premiere of Elizabeth Egloff's The Devils, which opened May 20 and will close after its limited run, June 8.
Inspired by Dostoevsky's novel about Ukrainian revolutionaries, The Devils is NYTW's most ambitious production since Rent, the blockbuster musical with which the East Side nonprofit theater will be forever identified. The Devils boasts a running time 3 hours and 45 minutes, a cast of 15, and a massive set (by Douglas Stein) comprises stairs, catwalks, and doors.
The play concerns a group of unlikely revolutionaries conspiring to overthrow their local government. Plans go awry and the revolutionaries meet a violent end.
Elizabeth Egloff's previous plays include The Swan (New York Shakespeare Festival), Phaedra (Vineyard Theatre), and The Lover (Baltimore Center Stage). The Devils is helmed by Garland Wright, former artistic director of the Guthrie Theatre (1986-96), whose most recent New York directing credit was Christopher Durang's Sex and Longing. The red-hot Moises Kaufman, writer and director of Gross Indecency, was originally slated to serve as assistant director to Wright, but had to pull out to oversee the commercial transfer of his Oscar Wilde play. By coincidence, Gross Indecency begins its commercial run the same day The Devils opens.
Costumes for The Devils are by Susan Hilferty, lighting is by Jim Ingalls, and sound is by David Van Tieghem. The cast includes Nathalie Paulding, Bill Camp, Boris McGiver, Frank Raiter, Ray Anthony Thomas, Patrick Kerr, Christopher McCann, Denis O'Hare, Kali Rocha, James Colby, Lynn Cohen, Randy Danson, Daniel Oreskes, Michael Arkin, and Patrice Johnson.
Because of the show's running time, the curtain time for all evening performances is 7PM. The production also offers performances at 1PM Saturdays and 5PM Sundays.
For tickets ($30; $25 for the Saturday matinee), call the NYTW box office at (212) 460-5475.
-- By Andrew Ku