Gnit-Picking at Actors Theatre

If you go to Gnit, in the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre, know that you may walk out scratching your head and wondering the meaning of what you’ve just seen.

While I’ve become used to the professional productions at Actors — the sets, the sounds, the spot-on performances by the actors — this story of Peter Gnit was a difficult story to follow.

Mr. Gnit, played by Dan Waller, is on a quest to discover his authentic self. He takes the audience on an odd journey, behaving badly, treating others poorly and generally being unlikeable. Perhaps this is what makes the story challenging. Certainly Gnit’s travails are sometimes comedic and entertaining, especially the interactions with villagers who speak in multiple voices, but his quest leaves the viewer wondering how these episodes fit together and if there’s some point that we’re all missing.

The play begins in a cabin in the woods, where Peter visits his mother who is obviously displeased with how his life has turned out. This launches Gnit on the pursuit of his self, and is described by Actors as “. . . willfully American misreading of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, a 19th century Norwegian play which is famous for all the wrong reasons. . . ”

By the end, in which Gnit has aged dramatically, he’s gained experience, but little wisdom in a lifetime of adventure. He has no lasting relationships, only regrets.

Gnit is directed by Les Waters, the Artistic Director at Actors, and is performed in the Pamela Brown Auditorium. It runs through April 7.