I’m going to cut right to the bottom line: “An Enemy Of The People” is a great play.

Originally by Henrik Ibsen, this adaptation by Amy Herzog purposely starts slowly, with Dr. Thomas Stockmann (Jeremy Strong) having dinner at home with a few friends and his daughter, Petra. But then a letter arrives for Thomas, and it sets in motion a plot that builds and builds right through to the end.

The letter contains the results of tests on the town’s water that the doctor had sent off to a laboratory — and they’re not good. It turns out the water is brimming with bacteria, so much so that it’s hazardous to everyone’s health. Thomas wants to notify everyone, but his brother, Peter (Michael Imperioli), the town’s mayor, won’t hear of it because the news would ruin the town’s spas, which rely on tourists to stay in business.

Thomas is insistent, planning to publish a report in the local newspaper, whose editor and printer stand with him — until they don’t. Peter is a very effective politician who knows how to manipulate the truth to the point where even level-headed citizens don’t believe the scientific facts that Thomas presents. Before he knows it, the property owners and spa investors spin the danger from a potential health disaster to an economic crisis that must be avoided.

There’s irony to Strong playing the lead in “An Enemy Of The People,” since he spent several years on HBO’s “Succession” as the scion of a Murdoch-like family whose media empire became outrageously wealthy by spreading outright lies and personal attacks. But here, Strong’s Thomas is a mild-mannered man of science who can’t conceive of a populace suckered in by the nonsense spewed by those who attack him. In the allegory that is “An Enemy Of The People,” Thomas is the equivalent of Dr. Anthony Fauci during the coronavirus pandemic.

The production of “An Enemy Of The People” at Circle In The Square does not include a traditional intermission. Instead, the play pauses an hour in as audience members are invited onstage to be served a shot of aquavit, a Norwegian alcoholic beverage. Something similar was done six years ago during a revival of “Oklahoma” in the same space, with bowls of chili offered to onlookers. During the break in “An Enemy Of The People,” some cast members sing Nordic folk songs, and then some viewers are allowed to stay on stage — with cast members among them — for the boisterous town meeting that makes up most of the second act.

It all makes for a helluva night of theater, with Strong and Imperioli at the top of their game, and a supporting cast that’s just as good. I give “An Enemy Of The People” my highest recommendation.

Tomorrow: my reviews of “Water For Elephants” and “Uncle Vanya

Previously on Harris Online: