'Festen' Fascinates

Nothing will be the same for a Danish family when a long-hidden secret is revealed.

Family dinners around the holidays can sometimes be a little touchy, but they’re nothing compared to the drama of Festen, an adaptation of a Danish film that’s now playing at the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket.

The gripping production centers around the celebration of the sixtieth birthday of Helge, the father of a modern Danish family. As his adult children return home, it soon becomes clear that all is not well within the family and that one of the children, Linda, recently died.

Brother Michael (Alexander Platt) is abusive, sister Helene (Casey Seymour Kim) is scattered and emotional, while brother Christian (Steven Kidd)—Linda’s twin—clearly has something on his mind.  When the family gathers for the meal and Christian raises a toast to his father, what he reveals changes the family forever.

The play, directed by Tony Estrella, follows the Gamm’s earlier production of Hamlet, another tragedy of fathers and sons. As the action twists and turns, strong performances make it compelling. Helge (Will Lyman) and his wife, Else (Sandra Laub), are fascinating to watch as they try to keep the party going in the face of the damage that has been done, while their remaining children grapple with what to believe.

Festen runs through Feb. 12 at the Gamm Theater, 172 Exchange St., Pawtucket. You can get tickets by calling 723-4266 or go to gammtheatre.org.

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