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String of Pearls

a Drama
CATEGORY :
by Michele Lowe

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 1218

SHOWING : March 04, 2005 - April 03, 2005

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Four actresses play 27 roles in this sequence of monologues which follow the same string of pearls over 40 odd years.


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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String of Gems
by Dedalus
Thursday, March 31, 2005
5.0
The word from the mainstream critics on Horizon’s production of “String of Pearls” has been mixed. It has been criticized for being too shallow, too pretentious, too dependent on its plot “gimmick,” too whatever-else-was-bugging-the-writer.

Which is a shame, because I thought this was one of the best productions I’ve seen at Horizon since … well, ever.

To recap, “String of Pearls” is essentially a series of monologues. Four actresses play over twenty roles as they tell a series of stories centered around a particular string of pearls. But this is only the framework for what is a more substantial play – it is really about women “of a certain age” (that is, over 40) and how they cope with loves lost, won, and just tires, with children and parents, with jobs and careers, with history, and with life in general. To call it shallow because it deals with so many different stories and characters is like calling a book of short stories shallow because it’s not a novel.

The monologue format is very much like the short story. It has to convey a lot of detail about story and character in a very short amount of time. It must paint in “broad strokes” without sacrificing depth or nuance. To put in bluntly, every monologue in this play works. Every story is complete. Every woman portrayed as a part of the whole. And, like the titular pearl necklace, the whole would be diminished if any were lost. As one story segues into the next, we do get a sense of loss, like we want to know more about that character; but that is only the result of the quality of writing we’ve heard – like the sense of sadness we feel at the end of a very good book.

The four actresses hit every note right. I especially liked Ann Wilson’s Beth (the “clasp” that joins the ends of this particular string) – She convincingly goes from 74 to 39 years old with the change of a hat and a straightening of the shoulders, and makes us believe this is the same woman at different moments in her life. Donna Biscoe also succeeds at the impossible task of making us believe that she, a young African-American Actress, is really a “Middle-Aged Mad White Divorcee.” Sally Robertson plays four different women as different as can be, making us forget that she’s the same actress. And Monica Williamson is on a par with the others, even though she is saddled with the least interesting characters in the piece. I’ve been very critical of Ms. Williamson before in this forum – her work here makes me want to go back and see what I missed in her earlier performances.

I very rarely rate a production this highly, simply because I’m a hyper-critical git who can always find something with which to quibble. I this case, however, these four actresses kept me spellbound, from beginning to end.


-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com) [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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