Crime And Punishment
Review by Willard Manus

First produced in Chicago in 2003, this adaptation of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT was seen in L.A. ten years ago. Now it has returned in a new production directed by Peter Richards and starring three superb actors. That's right: three actors, because this is a stripped-down, modern version of the 500-page novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Written by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus, it
tells its story in an astoundingly brief ninety minutes.

Michael Trevino plays Raskolnikov, the strange, tormented geezer who murders an old woman pawnbroker (Lola Kelly) for a variety of reasons. To begin with, he is poor, down and out, and much despised in life. He also has a family to feed. But Dostoevsky gives him another motive beyond the mere economic,
a belief that by raising himself up he could ultimately become a benefactor to mankind, a kind of amoral superman like Napoleon. During the course of an interrogation led by police inspector Porfiry (Brian Wallace), Raskolnikov's motives are proven false and his conscience begins to work on him, to such a degree that he begins to fall apart, in anguished fashion, crying out for
forgiveness and redemption.

The interrogation takes place on a near-bare stage but leans heavily on a live camera feed to project images of the actors on a back screen. The idea, as a press note explains, "is to magnify the psychological depth and impact of their
words and let the audience see into their eyes during the performance." In my opinion, though, these movie-like close-ups were an unnecessary and annoying distraction. The actors were skilled enough to convey the emotions contained in the text without benefit of technological support. They created believable and
vivid characters, even when (in the case of Wallace and Kelly) they had to make quick costume changes and portray new people. The gist of the play, though, lies in the cat and mouse game that Inspector Porfiry enters into with Raskolnikov, manipulating him in such a masterful way that the latter can't help but break down and confess his sins.

This new CRIME AND PUNISHMENT is an actor's vehicle and it managed to connect powerfully with the audience, thanks to the admirable work by Trevino and Wallace.

(Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main Street, Santa Monica.
Call 323-960-7822 or visit