The main problem with "Anna Christie" is Anna Christie

May 23, 2005, midnight | By Danielle Foster | 17 years, 6 months ago

An affable literary character loses profundity on stage

Dissatisfied with his original play entitled "Chris Christopherson," Eugene O'Neill altered the focus of the play from Christopherson, the father, to Anna Christie, the long-lost daughter, giving her a harrowing past that no longer included the cliché triumph of good over evil. If you think these changes would be for the better, making the play a more dramatic and enthralling experience on stage, you are thoroughly mistaken.

The plot begins when Anna Christie visits her father after 15 years of struggle and unhappiness. She hopes to connect with her father, turn her life around and rest after a tiring journey. As she spends time with him on his coal barge, she meets Mat Burke, a stereotypical Irish sailor and they quickly fall for each other. The mere thought of his daughter in love with a sailor puts Chris Christopherson on edge. According to him, marrying a sailor guarantees unhappiness and contradicts his image of his daughter living a stable life in a cottage on a farm somewhere. It is Anna, however, who ends the relationship because Mat is unaware of her shocking past. Once her past is revealed, however, she waits upon the acceptance of Mat Burke and support from her father.

O'Neill constructed an excellent plot, but Sara Surrey, who plays the starring role of Anna Christie fails to gain much sympathy from the audience. Aside from an ever-changing accent, Surrey creates a shallow character even though there is potential for so much depth. The susceptibility that should be present in a character such as Anna's is not there. She does not do much in the way of character development either, and by the end of the play, many questions are still left unanswered. After surviving such a turbulent past as was Anna's, a realistic character would have undergone changes and reached realizations so that the finale should not have caught her as the same Anna who entered the play several acts before.

To counteract a less than satisfactory portrayal of Anna is the excellent depiction of her father, Chris Christopherson, played by Kevin Tighe. Christopherson is a well-rounded character, providing both comic relief and depth. As the story of the Christopherson's develops, it seems the play should focus upon Chris as in the original version instead of Anna.

"Anna Christie" is overall, an enjoyable play if you have the patience and time to kill. Every viewer can take away a different message from the play and appreciate various themes such as male domination and tolerance. Going to see the play expecting something momentous though will only lead to disappointment.

"Anna Christie" is 150 min and is playing through June 19, 2005.

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Danielle Foster. Danielle is a senior and all she can say is "it's about time". Now 17, driving, and close to completing the Communication Arts Program, she is ready to graduate on June second. This is her last year at Blair though, and she plans to make … More »

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