I identify deeply with this show. Well, not the obsessive stalker-y aspect, but the overwhelming need, the desire to be loved, the surrrender. The culpability versus the unsuspecting. I know what it is to be more in love with someone than they are with me. The feeling that I'm screaming and nobody hears. The realization that physical beauty is perhaps not what I bring to the table. All those things are explored so beautifully in Sondheim's rapturous music. During the original production, my TKTS tickets were in the second row for the matinee and in the fourth row for the evening performance. I was enveloped in a swirling whirlpool of emotion - it was incredible. And I thought that seeing the show in a smaller venue would magnify that feeling, but for some reason...it didn't.
Maybe I just couldn't get the original out of my head. Maybe I expected too much. Maybe I was too tired. Maybe the music's tempos were too slow. Maybe I just don't get John Doyle's directing aesthetic. But whatever it was, I didn't love this production as much as I wanted to. I was still moved by the music and was weepy walking to the subway afterwards, thinking about the show, but I didn't feel as much during the performance as I hoped I would.
The performances seemed a bit inert to me, as if they were telling me about all of these huge emotions, but they weren't feeling them. Almost like they were sitting on top of it, but not getting down deep INTO it. At least, that's how it felt to me. Until the Flashback scene where Fosca is writing the letter to Giorgio about her past and her cousin is also telling a version of the same story. There, finally, in Stephen Bogardus' thwarted desire for revenge, did I get some real feeling, some real energy that I could tap into. Suddenly, I wanted Stephen Bogardus to be playing Giorgio instead of playing the cousin and that's all I could think about the rest of the evening. Oop.
The cast, on the whole, was fine. The score was beautifully sung. But beautifully sung isn't all I was looking for. There were moments, here and there, of more, but they were only moments. I really do feel like I can lay the blame for most of the problems at the feet of the director. I honestly don't get him. As in other productions he's directed, people are moving around, marching around, always moving moving moving, and all I could think was "STAND STILL AND SING!!!" The moments that were most successful were when the motion stopped and we could just...be. And feel. I know there are soldiers, I know there are scenes that take place in two locations simultaneously, but there has to be another directorial choice out there other than having everyone wander around the stage constantly. I also know that the three-quarter thrust stage at CSC is hard to navigate, but it seemed like Doyle was trying to make sure NOBODY could see Fosca's beautiful final moments. So odd.
Still, having said all that, a production of Passion that I don't love is still 99% better than most other things I see. I'm ever so glad I saw it, and especially that I heard it, because I love it so much. Like Fosca, maybe I just love a little too much...