Hilberry’s thought-provoking ‘An Enemy of the People’ well worth seeing

Front_RowWhen should a person risk his own safety and the well-being of his family to protect the majority, people blinded by ignorance or greed, from their own folly?

In Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” Dr. Stockmann faces this dilemma when he discovers the water feeding the town’s health spa, which has dramatically improved the area’s economy, is contaminated with bacteria, causing serious health problems among the guests, including typhus.

Understandably, in an era when most people did not know about bacteria, tiny creatures visible only under a microscope, they do not comprehend the doctor’s concern, but they do realize what would happen to their town if they lost their reputation as a restorative destination.

To complicate matters, the doctor’s brother is the town’s mayor, and his father-in-law’s tannery may be the source of the contamination.

The town claims to embrace democracy, but they do not want to hear the doctor’s warnings, and they do not want him ruining the town’s livelihood by spreading the news beyond its borders. The majority also oppose a tax to create a new water intake and filtering facility.

Miller may have seen parallels to the McCarthy-era witch hunts when he adapted Ibsen’s play.

Brandy Joe Plambeck is tremendous as Dr. Stockmann, a man pledged to do no harm, who struggles to protect the public while his own family is threatened and vilified.

Child actors Nicholas Chapman and Forrest Gabel from the Motor City Youth Theater do an outstanding job as Stockmann’s young sons.

You will also enjoy Miles Boucher’s drunkard cameo during the town hall meeting, providing some much-needed comic relief.

Directed by Blair Anderson, the entire company is strong, and the story is easy to understand and follow.

Michael Sabourin’s scenic design is stunning and highly adaptable to the different settings.

The show runs in rotating repertory through March 28 with William Congreve’s Restoration comedy “The Way of the World.”

Tickets are $10 to $30, and are available by calling 313-577-2972, at Hilberry1.com, or at the theater box office, 4743 Cass in Detroit.


The Hilberry continues its successful strategy of opening its season with a comedy, hoping to sign more subscribers from the success of their opening show.

“One Man, Two Guvnors” by Richard Bean opens the 2015-16 season, with an Oct. 2-to-17 run.

Based on “The Servant of Two Masters” by Carlo Goldoni, the show features songs by Grant Olding and centers on an easily confused double agent and a bad case of mistaken identity.

When Francis finds himself working for both a local gangster and an upper class criminal rival, he must prevent the two from meeting and discovering that he works for both.

Next up is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” adapted for the stage by Simon Levy. Set amid the extravagance of the Jazz Age, the story follows Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Nick Carraway in a tale of obsession, greed and danger during a glamorous and decadent age.

The show runs Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, and Jan. 7 to 9 in rotating repertory.

The holidays arrive at the Hilberry with the hysterical comedy, “Inspecting Carol.” Created by Daniel Sullivan and the Seattle Repertory Theatre, the show follows madcap backstage antics of the company’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” The show runs Dec. 4 to 19.

The New Year opens with William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” a comic battle of the sexes, running Jan. 29 to Feb. 6 and March 10 to 12, 2016 in rotating repertory.

Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park” spans the civil rights era to the gentrification of the 21st century. Racial tensions erupt when a black family moves into all-white Clybourne Park in the 1950s. Fifty years later, the now all-black neighborhood tries to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.

“Clybourne Park” runs Feb. 26 to April 2, 2016 at the Hilberry, following the Feb. 12-to-21 run of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” at the Bonstelle.

The Hilberry Theatre closes its season with George Feydeau’s hysterical comedy, “A Flea in her Ear,” adapted by David Ives. When a wife becomes suspicious of her husband’s fidelity, she hatches a plan to catch him in the act.

The show, last performed on the Hilberry stage is 1977, will fill the house April 22 to May 7, 2016 with non-stop laughter.

The Bonstelle season includes something for every audience, from classics to dance to family-friendly shows.

Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” opens the season Oct. 9 to 18, with the women of Greeece offering their warring husbands an ultimatum: chose war or sex, but not both.

The second show, “James and the Giant Peach,” is a family favorite running Nov. 13 to 22 with young James on an adventure featuring spiders, earthworms and oversized fruit.

The dance department offers a double bill:  A December Dance Concert Dec. 11 and 12, followed by a Spring Dance Concert March 3 to 4, featuring works by guest artists, faculty and student choreographers.

Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” runs Feb. 12 to 21, 2016, chronicling a black family’s struggle with racism when they move into an all-white neighborhood in 1950s America.  The show intentionally runs before the performance of “Clybourne Park,” dealing with similar issues, at the Hilberry.

The Bonstelle season closes with the beloved musical “Oklahoma!” the first collaboration of composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II.  The show, which runs April 15 to 24, 2016, follows a handsome cowboy and brooding farmhand competing for the affections of a young farm girl in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical.

For season tickets and more information, call 313-577-2972 or go to theatreanddance.wayne.edu.