The Alchemist will be the seventh production I have designed for Michael Kahn. The styles have ranged from the completely imagined worlds of Camino Real and The Silent Woman to the very period specific costumes of Lorenzaccio. As we began discussions about The Alchemist, Michael thought that I should approach it similarly to The Silent Woman: a mixed period style that would bring in period details and shapes, but parallel modern fashion. Soon it became clear that a modern approach would be best for this production.
In the play there are three swindlers: Subtle, Face and Dol Common. They all have disguises that help them create various characters as needed to trick their “clients.” The action is very fast paced and actor motivated. Each of the other characters change from who they are to who they hope or imagine themselves to be. Michael felt the costumes should be bright, funny and should telegraph the ideas of the characters. The style of the costumes has landed somewhere between British farcical comedy, seedy Las Vegas and vaudeville.
The ideas of alchemy, change, financial gain and perception have been influential to the design. As always, I’ve enjoyed working with Michael. He allows me to explore creative ways of solving problems while having specific ideas and keeping an eye on the needs of the script.