If you love Edith Wharton (1862-1937), as I do, then you will adore the latest Wharton Salon offering – Dennis Krausnick’s adaptation of her 1911 short story Autres Temps… But I am fully aware that not everyone loves Wharton, and that women are more disposed to like her work than are men. I guess I am trying to say is that Wharton wrote Chick-Lit and this is the theatrical equivalent of a Chick-Flick. Wharton was also very much a woman of her time and socio-economic status, which meant that she didn’t tackle life’s difficult issues head on, but obliquely, giving everything the calm and genteel sheen of oil spread on troubled waters.
It is this latter effect that Krausnick captures so beautifully in his stage adaptations of her work. Like a glacier gliding slowly but inevitably forward, Wharton’s characters roll heedlessly over the hub-bub of life, often causing great pain and destruction, but doing so in a bone-chilling silence. If you are looking for action and adventure, you will never find it in the Wharton Salon.
Although the story is celebrating the centennial of its publication, director Catherine Taylor-Williams has dared to shift the time period of the play from Wharton’s own time to 1962. This is a first for the Wharton Salon, and indeed I believe for all the adaptations of Wharton’s work that have been presented at The Mount since Shakespeare & Company took up residence in 1978.