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Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010

‘Exits and Entrances’ Continues APT’s Strong Season

Theater Review

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The great South African actor Andre Huguenet (Kenneth Albers) is dying of unimportance, a classical performer at the end of his career. But the lessons he teaches the playwright (David Daniel) in Athol Fugard’s Exits and Entrances, which opened Tuesday at American Players Theatre’s Touchstone Theatre, are some of the most meaningful that the young man—and perhaps many audience members—will ever learn.

The playwright in this 2004 autobiographical drama is Fugard himself, and the death analogy originally was a reference to Fugard’s father. But it also applies to Huguenet, who served as Fugard’s theatrical father, and one forced to let his son go on to become part of the “new breed” of South African theater, one in which actors like Huguenet have no part. Exits and Entrances is a play about fathers and sons, hope and despair and the decline that accompanies time’s inevitable passage. Kate Buckley directs her veteran two-man cast like a beautiful sonata, playing very bright moments in a predominantly minor key.

Albers, himself a director, turns in a bravura performance that’s among the most complex of his APT career. In his refusal to accept pity, Huguenet engenders pathos and acceptance of this blustering, boastful and inherently flawed man. Daniel, one of APT’s most powerful performers, reins in and channels his energy to create an appealing, sometimes confused character who comes to love and appreciate the flaws in the man who had been his hero. Both actors become masters of some difficult South African accents.

With Exits and Entrances Touchstone hits its third homerun in a very strong season.

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