The Baroness: Isak Dinesen’s Final Affair

Thorklid (Conrad Ardelius) asks The Baroness (Dee Pelletier) a very unexpected, personal question in Thor Bjorn Kreb’s tale of Isak Dinesen’s Final Affair at the Clurman Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen. Original Photo by Ellinor DiLorenzo.

By Andrew Andrews

"Everyone has strings tied to their wrists when they get close to her. Strings tied at our hands and at the top of our heads. And then the Baroness casually pulls the strings."

—Benedicte Jensen in The Baroness

We’ve all known someone manipulative. Maybe in our family or our circle of friends. Maybe someone we dated, or even fell in love with. Hopefully someone whose clutches we eventually escaped. But even then, we are permanently marked. Scarred. Never completely recovered.

Karen Blixen—Thor Bjørn Krebs’ Baroness—always leaves a scar. Denmark’s acclaimed author even left a scar on the playwright himself, although he only knew of her through memoirs and research. You might be familiar with Blixen’s Out of Africa or Babette’s Feast, written under the pen name Isak Dinesen. In this imagined account of her final "love affair," actor Dee Pelletier personifies Blixen as a relentless drama queen who seduces Thorkild Bjørnvig—a poet half her age, played by Conrad Ardelius—into abandoning his wife and child to live with her. Blixen convinces Bjørnvig that it is necessary for his career, despite repeated evidence from fellow pawn Benedicte Jensen (Vanessa Johansson) that he, like many before, is just an insect caught in her web.

Research into Blixen’s life suggests that Kreb’s tale might not be far from the truth, and the portrayals by Pelletier, Ardelius and Johansson seem perfectly, disturbingly accurate. So check out the show, then come back and tell us what you think. Whether it inspires you to dig deeper into the life of Karen Blixen, or it turns out “not your thing,” your reviews help others decide whether to attend, and your ratings help us help you find out about future performances you’re sure to love!

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Andrew Andrews attended The Baroness: Isak Dinesen’s Final Affair at Theatre Row in New York on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 8:00pm to write this review.

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