Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
The Hyacinth Theater Company asserts that it is dedicated to developing and producing new, commercially viable, dramatic plays about real people, so only the uncharitable would suggest that the group had been formed primarily to produce the work of its founder. And yet having sat through the company’s inaugural productionthe inelegantly written, indifferently acted, ineptly directed mess that is Robert Albert Kapler’s Love in Exileone hopes that Hyacinth will in fact move on as quickly as possible to explore the plays of other writers. The alternative, presumably, is another venture into the territories of Exile, which are demarcated by unlikely dialogue, plodding exposition, and ambitious but ungraceful psycho-historical speculation. The plot, for those who insist: In 1910, the exiled and still marginalized Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is scraping by in Paris with naught but his long-suffering wife, a few die-hard followers, and his own tediously academic revolutionary zeal to sustain him. Into his dim little apartment walks the purportedly beguiling Inessa Armand (whom everyone, inexplicably, keeps calling “Miss” and “Mademoiselle” despite the crucial role of her husband’s money in what follows). Lenin is smitten; his wife is hurt; angst ensues until such time as the revolution comes, which isn’t nearly soon enough. Paul McLane occasionally manages to make something interesting of Lenin, offering glimpses here and there of an intellectual who knows how to move people en masse but hasn’t a clue how to connect with them individually. Frank Britton, likewise, is intermittently affecting as Lenin’s devoted second fiddle. But the women in the great man’s lifethe two we’re supposed to see work a profound change in Lenin’s characterare no more than caricatures, unconvincingly drawn and uncomfortably played, and the peripheral members of the cast are such relative tyros that it would be unfair to mention how awkward and actorish they seem. Better, surely, to blame Kapler for giving them all such thankless, throwaway linesand director Ingrid Cornell for herding them on and off the stage like so many bovines. Trey Graham