Unraveling Guilt – A Gripping Tale of Crime and Punishment

photo courtesy of The Old Globe Theatre
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By Kathy Carpenter

(from left) Orville Mendoza and Nik Walker in The Old Globe’s production of Crime and Punishment, A Comedy. Photo by Jim Cox.

“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky. The Old Globe Theatre presents “Crime and Punishment, A Comedy” by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen. The play is “mind-gripping light-hearted entertainment.” Can the crime be found in the intent?

(from left) Orville Mendoza (center) with Stephanie Gibson, Nik Walker, Juliet Brett, and Vincent Randazzo in The Old Globe’s production of Crime and Punishment, A Comedy. Photo by Jim Cox.

This version of “Crime and Punishment” is disguised as a comedy. Sure, we laugh, but the story goes much deeper, leaving us questioning our own morality during and after the play. In a way, this is my favorite kind of play, one that sparks much discussion on the way home.

There are five actors in the play taking on multiple roles. The program doesn’t even give character names, referring to them as actor 1 – 5. Nik Walker plays the lead role, portraying a good man, a man of honor. The play opens with him having earned his lawyer credentials and intending to file a motion for his wrongfully imprisoned father. The family has been living in dire circumstances with little money.

The landlord threatens eviction if he is not paid, the mother is ill, and the doctor refuses to prescribe more medicine until payment is made. The sister, a hopeless romantic, is about to agree to marry a man she doesn’t love for his money, thinking it will help the family. Walker’s character reassures everyone not to worry; he will ask for an advance on his salary.

(from left) Juliet Brett (front) with Nik Walker, Vincent Randazzo, Orville Mendoza, and Stephanie Gibson in The Old Globe’s production of Crime and Punishment, A Comedy. Photo by Jim Cox.

However, when he goes to pick up his credential, the man holding it tries to blackmail him. He claims Walker has a library book overdue from his first year of study, incurring a significant debt. Unable to pay, desperate and under the influence of alcohol and a hallucinatory drug, Walker sneaks in later that night with the intent to steal his certification but ends up doing much more in the heat of the moment.

He is offered the opportunity to get away with the crime, with his friend taking the blame. But will he truly escape punishment, or will the guilt he carries evoke its own punishment?

“Crime and Punishment: A Comedy” is directed by Gordon Greenberg, who skillfully highlights the extreme talents of five brilliant actors – Vincent Ransazzo, Juliet Brett, Stephanie Gibson, Orville Mendoza, and Nik Walker – in this theatrical masterpiece.

(from left) Nik Walker, Stephanie Gibson, Orville Mendoza, Vincent Randazzo, and Juliet Brett in The Old Globe’s production of Crime and Punishment, A Comedy. Photo by Jim Cox.

As the curtains fall, our minds linger on human nature and the  power of laughter to reveal deeper truths. This thought-provoking journey will continue to resonate with theatergoers, sparking meaningful conversations and reflections on the fine line between right and wrong.

(from left) Juliet Brett, Orville Mendoza, Nik Walker, Vincent Randazzo, and Stephanie Gibson in The Old Globe’s production of Crime and Punishment, A Comedy. Photo by Jim Cox.

Crime and Punishment A Comedy

Thru August 13, 2023

Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre

The Old Globe

Balboa Park

https://www.theoldglobe.org/

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