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Crimes of the Heart
a Comedy/Drama
by Beth Henley

COMPANY : Performing Arts North [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Dancing Goat Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4468

SHOWING : June 14, 2013 - June 30, 2013



Winner of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. An astonishing first play, initially presented by the Actors Theatre of Louisville, then Off-Broadway, and then on Broadway, where it established the author as a major voice in our theatre. Warm-hearted, irreverent, zany and brilliantly imaginative, the play teems with humanity and humor as it examines the plight of three young Mississippi sisters betrayed by their passions. "While this play overflows with infectious high spirits, it is also, unmistakably, the tale of a very troubled family."

Director Margarita Moldovan
Chick Anna Burrell
Meg Erin Greenway
Doc Porter Trey Harrison
Babe Cate Lightburn
Lenny Kathryn Meehan
Barnette Ethan Smith
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Climes of the Crimes
by playgoer
Sunday, June 30, 2013
"Crimes of the Heart" was wildly popular with community theatres in the years following its 1981 Pulitzer Prize. It hasn’t been done so much recently, but it still holds up well. Beth Henley’s script delineates six distinct, vivid personalities -- the three McGrath sisters, their cousin, and two men in their lives. Margarita Moldovan has directed a production at Performing Arts North that plays to the strengths of the script.

Kathryn Meehan starts the show out well as the mousy Lenny, oldest of the three sisters. Her alternating euphoria and despair don’t always ring true, but that’s probably a case of the director pushing her to more extremes than the script truly calls for. She gives us a more engaging Lenny than is often seen.

Erin Greenway provides black sheep sister Meg with all the verve and skin-deep thoughtlessness the role requires, and then some. Cate Lightburn, with a wonderfully expressive face, informs Babe’s scattered thought processes with an off-kilter logic. These three women convey a lifelike relationship for the McGrath sisters. They’re the heart of the story, and they make that heart throb.

Anna Burrell plays cousin Chick with all the small-minded, holier-than-thou unpleasantness inherent in the lines, but giving a lot of laughs along the way. Her pantyhose changing scene could be done with more modesty, but she adds to the family dynamic with believable familiarity.

The men come off less well. Trey Harrison is fine in the small role of Doc Porter, though with a bit too much aging makeup on his forehead. Ethan Smith, however, as lawyer Barnette Lloyd, drains the energy out of the scenes he’s in. It’s not that his interpretation is off or his lines are unmemorized; it’s that the slow pace of his lines and his rather stiff delivery break the spell that the others have woven with their lively interchanges.

The set is a bit of a disappointment too. All the necessary elements are there, but the overall feel is that it was slapped together. Artisically, it’s not very attractive, with its varied browns and seams in the walls. It does give a bit of the feel, though, of the grandparents’ house that the sisters were raised in. There’s not much Southern gentility in the setting, making the McGrath clan solidly middle class. It works (as does the plumbing!).

Performing Arts North is putting on a creditable production of "Crimes of the Heart." It seems to be a production on a small budget (not even providing programs), but it lets the play shine through, as any worthy production must. Technically it works well, with lighting changes and frequent phone rings coming right on cue and stopping with admirable precision. Like the play itself, this production has a lot of heart. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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