Smoke, gold, and denial filled Atlantic Acting School’s underground theatre as their C5 students, now Floor Five Theatre Co., took the stage in their beautiful production of “The Visit” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Set in a small, impoverished town called Guellen (literally translated to “to spread manure”), residents are graced with the charming, yet sinister presence of Madam Claire Zachanassian (Veronika Gribanova). As a Guellen native turned wealthy aristocrat, Madam Zachanassian feels the plight of the town’s residents deeply and offers monetary aide; however, her gift is not without its price. Alfred Ill (Daniel Ganze), prospective mayor of Guellen and father to two daughters, Ottilie (Kate Smith) and Karla (Maria Isabella Rojas), just so happens to be that price. And thus commences the story of a tight-knit, god-fearing community’s downward spiral into greed, betrayal, and murder.
Gribanova emulates the spirit of Madam Zachanassian immaculately. Her stiff cyborg-esque externalities coupled with her elegant, yet cold demeanor portray a woman beaten but not broken by a life of poverty, misogyny, and abuse. Her disdain for those who have wronged her is deep-seeded, and though she was able to climb the proverbial ladder of success, revenge has always been on the forefront of Zachanassian’s mind.
"Ganze brings a beautiful bleakness to Alfred that starkly contrasts with the rest of the towns people’s jolly naiveté."
Unfortunately for Alfred Ill, most, if not all, of Zachanassian’s vengefulness is directed at him. Ganze plays a beautifully vulnerable and tolerant Alfred. After Madam Zachanassian makes her offer, Alfred’s interactions with the towns people become heartbreaking as he witnesses them racking up debt, confident that money will come. Ganze brings us in with him during Alfred’s slow decline into hopelessness, eventually bringing us to feel the full weight of his fear when his own wife Mrs. Ill (Berenice Odriozola), buys herself a fur coat and their children, tennis lessons, driving lessons, and a car, all on credit. Ganze brings a beautiful bleakness to Alfred that starkly contrasts with the rest of the towns people’s jolly naiveté.
There are few other actors among the group that stand out like Ganze and Gribanova. Amongst them include Tim Laschkolnig and Avigail Bryger (Koby and Loby), who are wonderfully unsettling and absolutely hilarious, Akili Brown (The Mayor), who deepens the show’s ominous tone by justifying murder through faux morality, and Sofia Mirpuri (The Priest), who skillfully plays up to the historic duality between money and the church.
Intelligent set design eased the audience into the town of Guellen while bold direction shook us to our core. Directed by Taylor Reynolds, Atlantic Acting School’s C5 student’s performance of “The Visit” was both thought provoking and chilling.
Floor Five Theatre Co. will be performing “zoundz!”, an original play written by Veronika Gribanova and directed by Kevin Mejia, on Nov. 30th – Dec. 1st! Get your tickets now!
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/342211529889058/