Apart from Moliere and downtown darling Kirk Wood Bromley, verse plays are a rare commodity in New York - almost as rare as productions of plays by George Gordon Lord Byron. It’s a double-rarity, then, that Steps Theatre has been producing Lord Byron’s verse drama, Cain, at the Greenwich Village Center Theatre (219 Sullivan Street in Manhattan).
The company press release promised a play about “God, Lucifer, philosophy and erotica, faith and skepticism, delight and irony.” The non-naturalistic production, directed by company founder Slava Stepnov, includes music and movement in its approach, with Ann Robideaux choreographing. Previews began Oct. 20 for a run ending Nov. 12.
Cast-members include John Jiler (himself a downtown scribe of note), Jeffrey Menaker, Jayson Westley and Snezhana Chernova. Designing the show are Uta Bekaia (set and costumes) and Jeff Brangan (lighting).
One hopes the Steps mounting will do better than the show’s more naturalistic staging many years ago by Konstantin Stanislavsky at the Moscow Art Theater, which press rep Sonia Kozlova points out ran only seven performances and to dismal response.
Russian director Stepnov, who staged a well-received version of Edward Albee’s Lolita a year ago, last staged To Kill Charlotte with Steps. It was a company-derived work based on Anton Chekhov’s Ivanov. Stepnov, a graduate of the Russian Academy of Theatre Art in Moscow, has directed 36 plays and musicals in eight major Russian cities during his 25-year career. He came to the United States in 1995 as a guest teacher and director at the Actor's Theatre of Louisville. Arriving in New York in 1997, he became one of the founding members of Steps Theatre Production Company and the International Theatre Workshop. His staging of Chekhov's The Seagull, was presented at the International Theatre Workshop. Steps has company members from, among others, France, Israel, Peru, Bulgaria and Italy. The company believes in movement-driven theatre, with text seen as a layer over the characters’ concrete actions.
For tickets ($12) and information on Cain at the Greenwich Village Center, call (212) 841-5454.
-- By David Lefkowitz