“Fifteen years ago I killed my sister.” That stark, matter-of-fact statement launches “Nocturne,” and its embedded significance is inexorable and intense.
Adam Rapp’s hypnotic, intricately written elegy for the fallout from an unimaginable family tragedy receives a resolute production, in which noted Belgian actor George Regout makes an impressive North American stage debut as a 32-year-old former piano prodigy struggling to transcend the event that decimated his family and upended his life.
First presented in two-act form in 2000 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., then at off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2001, “Nocturne” operates as a solo reverie of considerable effect, albeit through means as much literary as theatrical if not more so.
Refracting stream-of-consciousness metaphors through discursive specifics, Rapp’s narrative unfolds with carefully attenuated shifts of tense, syntax and allusion, here stylized and poetic, there as raw as private journal entries. Thus Rapp characterizes his haunted narrator on the subtextual bias even as his account brings everyone else into direct bas-relief.
Director Justin Ross’ spare staging -- with particular aid from designers R. Christopher Stokes (lighting) and Christopher Moscatiello (sound) -- showcases Regout, who reveals an arresting presence, restrained technique and vivid emotional articulation.
Whether his distinctly European accent and idiosyncratic pronunciation of certain colloquialisms makes Regout natural casting as an Illinois-born Manhattan transplant is another matter. All the same, this imposing actor embraces Rapp's daunting text with layered commitment, which carries us to the redemptive climax of this idiomatically searing soliloquy.
“Nocturne,” the Other Space at the Actors Company, 916 Formosa Ave., West Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays; also at 8 p.m. Feb. 27, no show March 2. Ends March 9. $20. (323) 960-4443 or www.plays411.com/nocturne2014. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.