First off, let me say that the beginning had me somewhat puzzled, but about five minutes into it, I finally figured out what the relationship of the first three actors was. Ok, so with that out of the way, let me continue..
I attended the preview night and certainly being an Actress you always expect a little "slip" here and there but I have to say that this went off flawlessly! I did notice and hear some tinkering in the back during the second half, but other than that, kudos also goes to the stagehands, flawless execution with GREAT scene changes. The sets were very good, tastefully done. I would like to point out, however, the first set, I could see a very distracting line in the wall around the door, which drove me nuts...a person like me will fixate on that thing and then sigh an internal breath of relief when the piece is finally removed from the stage. Please, God, fix that thing so it's smooth...there, I feel better.
This play was so well written...WOWIE! The storyline is very unique and I applaud SCR for picking it up. Joanne DeNaut (as always) cast this thing perfectly.
The story bounces from sister/brother (sort of) to mother to sister/husband, then off to Becky/sister's husband, sister/brother, sister/husband/Becky/brother/mother.....UGH!! I'm telling you this because be prepared, it moves!! The stories all intertwine, twists and turns, things revealed that all make the audience let out a big sigh like some sort of human accordion grasping for its next note.
About the Actors:
Tessa Auberjonois: Incredible as Suzanna, a realistic and emotional performance wrapped in comedy that will leave you never forgetting that face. The character cries for understanding and pleads for love, she delivers her real and with flawless execution. Her nose reminds me of Streisand, I was fixed on it...so beautiful. Her eyes speak to you...gorgeous.
Brian Avers: Shares the spotlight with Tessa as Max Garrett (Suzanna's adopted brother) in the most engaging and rivoting relationship I've seen on an OC Stage in quite some time. I have to say, he stole the show and the hearts of this entire audience. He is true to the character, which never waivers...a casting match made in heaven. Brian will win you over in some sort of love affair between audience member and character that you just can't explain...you HAVE to see this guy work!
Barbara Tarbuck: An amazing actress, certainly worthy of much more stage time than this character could offer her. She's absolutely, positively brilliant in her delivery, mannerisms and quick, tongue-devil punches that come out as she maintains complete authority as the mother of these two--and boy, do they need this woman! Barbara is one of my favorite actresses, you might have seen her on General Hospital as "Jane Jax," including guest appearances on "Medium" and "ER."
Angela Goethals: Not many actresses find it easy to pull off weird, sadistic, shy, coy and ignorant idiot all in one shot, but MaaaaaaaaN can Angela do it!! BRAVO for being one of the most pliable actors on the planet, girl!! I was simply glued to my chair every time something came out of "Becky Shaw's" mouth. Words cannot describe what Angela is capable of and well...you have to see it to believe it. BRAVO Angela, you are amazing!! You gained a new fan last night...in a fellow Actress.
Graham Michael Hamilton: Andrew Porter is the new husband of Suzanna who comes into the play with sort of "points" against him already. The audience is already perplexed at the point when you meet him. Andrew is a likable character with "rescue the maiden" on his mind and Graham portrays him very well. The poor character is sort of a little sad sack, but Graham makes him interesting and the audience wanting more of "who" this guy really is. A great portrayal of a character that turns out to be sort of "second rate" in my opinion, but alas, he loves Suzanna. I would really like to see Graham in some bigger roles, see more of what he can do, he's a great actor and his presence on stage was not only believable, but absolutely lovable and enjoyable.
Bottom line, go see this play. I laughed from start to finish and I can't remember a play recently that made me do that. Everything that went into this production is great from the scenic design to the costumes--OMG especially Becky Shaw's Birthday Cake Dress-see to believe, theater fans.
Kudos to writer, Gina Gionfriddo for a job extremely well done!
And to Pam MacKinnon, I could only HOPE to be directed by you one day...what a marvelous job you did!!
10 Thumbs Up! Go see Becky Shaw at the South Coast Rep through November 21st.I'm going again...I really am.