Sunday, April 16, 2006

From the Seattle Times:

From page to stage, trying to capture Edith Wharton's Lily

By Misha Berson

Lily Bart, an alluring and eligible woman of 29, is a glittering ornament of the Manhattan "smart set" who catches many a male mogul's wandering eye.

But Lily is no mere "It Girl" of the Gilded Age. She is, in fact, one of the most complicated of American literary protagonists. Ambitious and ambivalent, vain and virtuous, torn and ultimately tragic, she is often a puzzle — to herself, and to others.

Given Lily's beauty and charm, why does happiness escape her? And why, given all her rich admirers, does she end up poor and alone?

Lily's psychological intricacy, in relation to the rigid social strata she inhabits, make Edith Wharton's 1905 book, "The House of Mirth," one of the finest of American novels — and among the hardest to stage or film.

Yet "The House of Mirth" devotees can still dream that Lily's glittering, perilous saga in Old New York will someday translate into satisfying drama.

That hope rises again, with the arrival of a new stage adaptation by British writer Marcus Goodwin. Produced by Book-It Repertory Theatre, and staged by artistic director Jane Jones, it opens Friday at Seattle's Center House Theatre, with gifted actress Jennifer Lee Taylor as Lily.
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Coming up

"The House of Mirth," produced by Book-It Repertory Theatre, previews begin Tuesday, opens Friday and runs through May 13 at Center House Theatre, Seattle Center; $15-$30 (206-216-0833 or

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