THE TRIALS OF EZRA POUND by Timothy Findley, directed by Dennis Garnhum, with David Fox, David Storch, Tom Barnett, Jerry Franken, Roy Lewis, Jane Spidell and Hazel Desbarats. Presented by the Stratford Festival at the Tom Patterson Theatre. August 17 at 2 pm. $65.65-$70.65. 1-800-567-1600. Rating: NN
there's something wrong with a show when its staging is more theatrical than its script. That's the case with Timothy Findley's The Trials Of Ezra Pound.Director Dennis Garnhum injects as much drama as he can into the production, which plays off the legal hearing forced on Pound when he was charged with treason -- the court wanted a ruling on his sanity -- against the other trials, personal, professional and psychological, faced by the renowned American writer.
It's done as a memory play, with the splendidly fierce David Fox as Pound drifting in and out of the court proceedings as well as incidents in his own past, eavesdropping on the other characters. Barefoot and in hospital whites, Pound harangues not only the attorneys but also the audience. His closest ally is a hospital custodian, who in Roy Lewis's hands becomes one of the few realized figures onstage.
There's also good work from David Storch as the chief prosecutor and Jerry Franken as a hospital superintendent with an outward veneer of folksiness but a hidden agenda.
A major problem with the script is Findley's failure to create subsidiary figures of any depth. That leaves a fine actor like Jane Spidell (as Ellen Deutsch, a Jewish reporter) on the sidelines, with only wisps of a character to develop. Like most of the other people we see onstage, Deutsch feels tacked onto the story.