Thorsten appeared in many stage productions at the Hilberry Theatre, a unique graduate repertory theater in Detroit. Reviews of some of these producations are available here.
Above: As Eilert Loevborg in Hedda Gabler
Never content with a single target of opportunity, George Bernard Shaw takes on foolish chauvinism of every stripe in Arms and the Man. It's an exercise in with that can still be enjoyed as well as appreciated, as the Hilberry's merry new production demonstrates.
We look to Shaw for verbal virtuosity, but we don't really expect to have a belly-laughing good time. And we are surprised when a director like Margaret Spear and a cast like this smart Hilberry ensemble show us one.
The war that rages in the play is a laughably useless one between Bulgaria and Serbia. It ends with a solemn cessation of fighting but not, perish the thought, an end to the warlike posturing that was deemed politically correct a the time.
Shaw's hero is a Swiss mercenary fighting for the Serbs, Captain Bluntschli, who matter-of-factly compares to the reality of war to the drumbeatings of the warlike. His view of all this - as well as Shaw's - is wryly bemused. Honor and idealism are mere poses. Real warriors, he says, carry chocolate instead of bullets.
Indeed, Arms and the Man is about poses of all kinds - romantic, social, patriotic - and Shaw delights in lampooning them. But his characters aren't cartoons (as always with Shaw there's too much reality behind the wit for that), and Spear's cast finds the right tone of deadpan pomposity and human foolishness.
To the role of Bluntschli, Peter Toran brings the chiseled good looks of a film actor and a sense of authority that makes him, as Shaw intended, the only truly capable man in uniform on stage, the instrument Shaw uses to deflate the others.
His exact opposite is the mustached twit Major Sergius (Thorsten Kaye), who strikes languid poses upon each entrance and revels in his idiotic notions about chivalry and flashing cavalry charges.
In the course of things, his fiancee Raina - a quintessentially robust Shavian heroine, as played by Roxanne Wellington - falls for Bluntschli and learns a thing or two about how it really is between men and women.
Her parents, who still measure their worth by the number of horses they own, are hilariously puffed-up small-time aristocrats, as played impeccably by Michael S. Ouimet and Nancy Lipschultz. And Henry Lide and Janet Clarkson are very good, too, as the entrepreneurial servant Nicola and the lusty maid Louka.
The Hilberry has had more downs than ups lately. This Arms and the Man is a joyous up.