Review: Actors give believable performances


Cassie Buchman

Marie Jozwiak, Sam Kruckeberg and Duke Bagger perform in the Charleston Alley Theatre’s production of “The Wild Duck” Saturday.

Cassie Buchman, Associate News Editor

Although the Charleston Alley Theatre is small and unassuming, the cast is more than able to transcend this space and deliver fine performances.

This is especially clear in their production of “The Wild Duck,” directed and adapted by D. Craig Banyai.

This adaption of “The Wild Duck” concerns a man named Mark Ekdal, played by Sam Kruckeberg, his wife Gina, played by Marie Jozwiak and their daughter Hedy, who is slowly losing her eyesight, played by Belle Banyai. The Ekdals are a family just trying to get by with limited funds from their photography business.

Like any family, however, they have secrets and things that have been hidden from one another from the past. This is not a problem until Georgia Werle, played by Rachael Anderson, rents a spare room from them, and immediately tries to start digging up these secrets and trying to expose the truth.

The Charleston Alley Theatre actors play off one another well, especially in scenes when only two characters are interacting.

Jozwiak and Kruckeberg share sweet moments together playing husband and wife. When the scene calls for it, they are able to be playful and kind, but they also have powerful and passionate fighting scenes in which both actors gave their all.

Kruckeberg is a passionate actor, and his role as the over-worked father trying to do his best for his family is believable and very human. He makes it easy for the audience to empathize with him even during Mark’s worst moments.

Belle Banyai gave a sweet performance as Hedy, and the actress makes it clear how much her character loves her family and how far she is willing to go to keep them together.

Anderson seemed to have fun in her role as the rabble-rousing character Georgia. While the character’s motivations are not always clear, she is an interesting addition to the plot.

The set was nicely done, and the room is made into a believable studio. The lights also added a lot to the story, as they were dimmed and brightened in the right places to convey the mood of the scene.

The cast also makes good use of the stage and small area they have. The Charleston Alley Theatre performers, though not working with the biggest stage, are always able to bring the audience into the story they are telling and make it a more intimate experience.

Also adding to the play’s atmosphere was the sounds of chickens and other animals that played whenever a member of the family opened the attic, which was filled with chickens, rabbits, and the eponymous Wild Duck, who was played by an actual duck named Mr. Quackers.

Mr. Quakers was a fun addition to the cast, and was hands-down the most well behaved duck I have ever seen. This little detail of the live duck was a nice touch, and showed how carefully the show was planned.

Some lines, especially at the beginning of the show, were a bit hard to hear, although as the show went on this became less and less of a problem.

The adaption, which took the original play by Henrik Ibsen and updated it to have a more modern feel, complete with a laptop, still held true to the original play’s themes of living with a convenient lie or dealing with an inconvenient truth. This modernization also helped move the plot along and helped audience members relate to the story.

Also performing were Scott Bennett, as Georgia’s father, Mr. Werle who is trying to have a relationship with his daughter after his past indiscretions marred him in her eyes, and Nick Esslinger as Dr. Relling, who butts heads with Georgia multiple times.

“The Wild Duck” started off the 26th season of the Charleston Alley Theatre. Their next production will be William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing.”

Auditions for this will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Charleston Alley Theatre.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]