Theater: Excess Emoting

DUET FOR ONE by Tom Kempinski

Music may be a universal language, but theater is not. Any British play receiving a U.S. production can find not only its accent but its meaning changed. In its transatlantic crossing, Duet for One has been all but torpedoed out of the water. The unguided missiles of its destruction are a miscast director and star.

Tom Kempinski's play is a melancholy partita—two characters, six scenes—about a brilliant violinist struck down in her prime by multiple sclerosis, and the psychiatrist who tries to help her. The plot may...

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