|Ellinor DiLorenzo as Katarina in BELOVED at The Lion Theatre.|
Beloved by Lisa Langseth was originally produced in Sweden and subsequently adapted into the film Pure - which won the 2010 Guldbagge Award (Sweden’s equivalent of our Academy Award) for Best Screenplay. The play, in an English translation by Charlotte Barslung and directed by Kathy Curtiss, has now arrived in New York where it is enjoying its US premiere in a fine production by Scandinavian American Theater Company at The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row on West 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan.
Katarina (Ellinor DiLorenzo) is a culturally and socially unsophisticated young woman, employed at the mall, and living with her boyfriend Mattias in a mundane and barely satisfactory relationship. It is not that there is anything really wrong with Mattias: he is a “nice guy” with a regular job as a fork lift operator who treats Katarina decently and both of Katarina’s parents like him. It is just that he is pretty much of a couch potato and while sex with him is OK, that’s all it is, just OK. And Katarina is convinced - or at least hopes – that there is more to life than that, that there can be more “truth,” more “freedom.” After all, one only lives once.
And then Katarina discovers classical music and has a true musical epiphany. Which in turn leads to her entering into a relationship with Adam, an acclaimed conductor at an opera house - and the consequences of that relationship are more disastrous than epiphanous. Unsurprisingly, Adam is a married man whose family invariably takes precedence over his relationship with Katarina. (The child seat installed in the front of Adam’s car inevitably relegates Katarina to the back seat alone whenever Adam has occasion to drive them anywhere.)
Beloved is a one-woman show. Neither Mattias nor Adam nor anyone else ever makes an appearance. Rather, Katarina delivers an extraordinary monologue describing her social, cultural, intellectual and sexual growth while in thrall to Adam – and the price she pays for it. Or as the playwright herself describes what she has written: “The self-destructive person is interesting and terrible. Beloved is about a person who searches for her own destruction.”
Elinor DiLorenzo’s performance as Katarina is spot on, capturing the passions, the frustrations, the aspirations, the resentments and the ambivalences of a young woman in today’s politically correct yet still largely patriarchal society. It is a performance not to be missed.