Review: A Map of Virtue

Erin Courtney and Ken Rus Schmoll chart unusual territory in the latest play from 13P.

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  • Photograph: Blaine Davis

    A Map of Virtue

    A Map of Virtue at 4th Street Theatre

  • Photograph: Blaine Davis

    A Map of Virtue

    A Map of Virtue at 4th Street Theatre

  • Photograph: Scott Adkins

    A Map of Virtue

    A Map of Virtue at 4th Street Theatre

  • Photograph: Scott Adkins

    A Map of Virtue

    A Map of Virtue at 4th Street Theatre

Photograph: Blaine Davis

A Map of Virtue

A Map of Virtue at 4th Street Theatre

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

Erin Courtney's A Map of Virtue, the penultimate offering of the 13P project, is a studiously odd bird: Formal structure is the wind beneath its wings. "I love symmetry, so I was drawn to her," says Mark (Jon Norman Schneider) of his first encounter with Sarah (Clubbed Thumb's Maria Striar), and Courtney is attracted to symmetry too; the play is a meticulous arrangement of themes, organized around seven virtues that are announced as such by the narrator, which is a tiny statue of a meadowlark played by Birgit Huppuch with the air of a canary that ate the cat.

Following a series of strange encounters, Mark and Sarah become friends, and—with Sarah's husband, Nate (Alex Draper)—fall into a nightmarish predicament deep in the woods. There is something Edward Gorey--ish about the deadpan progression of events in Courtney's gothic picaresque, and in the wrong hands this might come off as too clever by two thirds. But Ken Rus Schmoll's sublime staging carves out a special world for the play to inhabit, buttressed by Tyler Micoleau's lighting, Daniel Kluger's sound and an exceptional cast of seven (which also includes Jesse Lenat, Annie McNamara and Hubert Point-Du Jour). The production's uncanny silences and negative spaces are perfectly suited to Courtney's investigations of morality and perversity, in which a great deal hangs on things that people imagine about one another. With Schmoll's graceful support, the play's flights of imagination pull you up for a ride.

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4th Street Theatre. By Erin Courtney. Dir. Ken Rus Schmoll. With ensemble cast. 1hr 5mins. No intermission. See complete event information.

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Anne Berit Skeie
Anne Berit Skeie

I forgive my computor all his misdeeds when I can read about Maria's performanses. Congratulations and best wishes from Norway and your Skeie friends here