The Devil’s Sonata, Visions & Voices Theatre Company, at the Strawdog Theatre Company. In a Hollywood pitch meeting, Mark Glinski’s new play would be described as “Dr. Faustus meets Amadeus.” Like Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, the play concerns a noteworthy composer, in this case Giuseppe Tartini, battling inner demons, in this case unleashed by the death of his beloved wife, Elizabeth. And like Christopher Marlowe’s Faustus, Tartini may have made a pact with Mephistopheles, enabling him to write one of his most famous works, The Devil’s Sonata.
Unlike the other, better-known plays, however, this one quickly overstays its welcome. The work starts out well enough, with vivid characters (adeptly brought to life by Tim Curtis, Tom Hickey, and Shannon Hoag) and a set of compelling existential complaints: the desire to create something worthy, the longing to see a much loved person once again, the wish for some kind of immortality. But having introduced his story’s main themes, Glinski is content to repeat them with minor variations, or no variations at all, for the last third of the evening. Some of the dialogue is so redundant I was convinced for a while that the actors had lost their places.
Surely, with just a little more finesse and a lot more cutting and shaping, Glinski could have turned this oft-told legend about Tartini and his sonata into a powerful little one-act.