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BEST STAGE PRODUCTION Minneapolis 2008 - Peer Gynt

Credit here goes where credit is due: The Guthrie drew on a largely local cast for Peer Gynt, brought in ace Mark Rylance for the title role, and with director Tim Carroll put on a strange and unabashedly original show that lived and breathed with vitality. Rylance played Peer like an adolescent sociopath, breathing offhanded malice and lust into deceptively flat readings of Robert Bly's Ibsen translation, and Laura Hopkins's scaled-down set allowed the production to flow into the imaginative rather than the literal. To be sure, this was a show that elicited mixed verdicts, ranging from wretched to sublime; for our money, this was three hours spent close up to the realm of the mythic, big ideas done on a big stage with the high-wire feel we usually look for in smaller venues.

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