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The Lady From Dubuque
a Play
by Edward Albee

COMPANY : Epidemic Theatre Group [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 4098

SHOWING : September 15, 2011 - September 25, 2011



This probing, provocative and eloquent examination of death and loss is clearly the work of a master playwright at the height of his powers.

"…every line bears the name of Edward Albee. It is not only fine theater, savagely funny and affecting. But it is also his best work since WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?…" —Time Magazine.

"…it has the hand of a master. It is richly worth seeing…" —NY Post.

"It's a troubling evening, but an individual one by a voice unlike any other on our stage." —NY Daily News.

Director Stephen Banks
Lighting designer Brad Rudy
Stage Manager Katie Pepper Schaffer
Set Designer Spencer G. Stephens
Sam Richard Blair
Lucinda Phyllis Giller
Elizabeth Teresa Harris
Fred Alan Phelps
Jo Amanda Leigh Pickard
Carol Linda Place
Edgar Steve Pryor
Oscar Ronald Stroman
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A Mysterious Lady
by playgoer
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Epidemic Theatre has taken on the task of performing Edward Albee's difficult play "The Lady from Dubuque." To put it mildly, this is not a script designed for the apocryphal "lady from Dubuque" whose opinion mirrors that of the midwest audience at large and can decide the success or failure of a touring show. Here, the "lady from Dubuque" is a plump, mysterious woman who appears at the end of act one and claims to be the mother of a woman dying of cancer (Jo). Jo's husband and circle of friends have been told that Jo's reclusive, rail-thin, pink-haired mother is living in New Jersey with her sister. It's never really resolved who this "lady from Dubuque" is. Is she really the mother? Is she the angel of death? Is she a figure in a dream?

The delights and challenges in this play arise from the ambiguity inherent in actions and relationships. Lucinda is disliked by almost everyone else. Why? Fred is an alcoholic redneck in the middle of suburbia. Why are he and Sam (Jo's husband) friends? We are tossed right into the middle of things in a game of twenty questions, and very little is explained. The closest thing to clarity is a short speech by Carol, Fred's girlfriend, explaining why she would choose to marry Fred. But, as she is quick to point out, she is a newcomer to the group. She hasn't had the years the others have had to bury the seeds of their obvious discontent. Add in the mysterious Elizabeth (the lady from Dubuque) and her sidekick Oscar, both of whom seem to have some magical powers, and there is a lot of murkiness to deal with.

Act one works remarkably well. Director Stephen Banks has whipped his troupe into a finely tuned ensemble that truly seems to be a dysfunctional set of friends heading toward the drunken end of an evening of partying. The characters grip and intrigue. Act two suffers by comparison, if only because the seemingly symbolic characters of Elizabeth and Oscar don't exhibit the strained human connections evident in the rest of the cast. Some odd blocking in act two (most characters frozen in position for a section of the dialogue) lets us know that some sort of skewed reality is being portrayed, but Albee's script doesn't clarify exactly what is going on.

All the acting is fine. Phyllis Giller and Steve Pryor embody an older, well-heeled couple. Alan Phelps and Linda Place ably portray a grittier couple. Teresa Harris and Ronald Stroman, as the mysterious pair of Elizabeth and Oscar, bring grace and slyness to their roles. The real standout, though, is Amanda Pickard as Jo. She brings venom and vulnerability to the character, with shading and depth making her the centerpiece of act one. She is largely absent in act two, and Richard Blair, as her husband Sam, can't compete as a figure of central interest.

Scenic design by Spencer Stephens is quite effective, with walls suggested by black curtains, letting the white doorframes, windowframe, and fireplace pop out in contrast. The elegant, mostly beige furniture gives a real feel of the great room in a comfortable suburban home. Props, by George Canady and Roy Wilson, Jr., fill the room with the litter of an evening of drinking and snacks. Their only misstep is in the bundled ropes used to tie up Sam in act two. They look fake, although there's a real rope underlying them that would have been fine on its own. It's certainly symbolic, though, of the fact that Albee isn't tying everything up neatly for the audience!

"The Lady from Dubuque" may not be the masterpiece that "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" is. Nevertheless, Epidemic Theatre is putting on a very creditable production of this little-seen work. For fans of Edward Albee, it's a must-see. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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