The 2012 British hit’s dialogue has been Americanized, but the feel is still of an English countryside, with references to villages and equally dependable train service and rain. The characters, though finely drawn, remain nameless and ultimately unknowable — as we all are.
Set in a remote cottage, The River sets up an intimacy that is by turns cozy and scary. As the central character, Andrew William Smith easily moves from dominating to charming to vaguely threatening. The Man is concealing something, but it’s not his vulnerability. Opposite him, the bubbly Daina Michelle Griffith and urbane Siovhan Christensen follow eerily similar paths in their respective relationships (games? rituals?) with the Man.
Director Adil Mansoor enthralls and thrills us as the fast-moving River changes dramatic course: deep channels here, treacherous rocks over there and beauty beckoning everywhere just beyond reach.
The rustic fishing-cabin set, totally realistic above the floor (which is surreal), is built indoors (and heated) onto the dry dock at Aspinwall Riverfront Park. A big hand for production director and resident scenic designer Britton Mauk and crew. And another for technical director Todd Nunn; costume designer Rachel Vallozzi; lighting designer K. Jenna Ferree; and stage manager Cory F. Goddard and assistant Katy Click.
There are so many layers and word plays in this fish tale: the pursuit, rejection, loss and triumph of fly-fishing mirror the course of romance. The River makes for a completely stimulating evening.