There are a lot of terrific things to say about Kathy Rucker's "Crystal Springs," but perhaps its best characteristic is simplicity. The story is told backwards, in that we see the tragedy as the curtain rises and then slowly move backwards in time so we can understand the events that contributed to it. This reverse chronology actually makes the story stronger as the ending hangs a terrible fate on what would have seemed an innocent beginning.
The six-woman cast is on stage at all times, each sitting on a box when a scene does not call for everyone. There are nice bass-heavy musical cues between scenes as director Anna Jordan moves things forward (actually, backward) with ease.
With understated dialogue, we see how the two moms (Sally Clawson as Linda and Amy Prosser as Rose) allow their dislike of each other to poison their daughters' social world.
Marissa Keltie plays Haley, the misfit, while Siobhan Fitzgerald plays Jenna, Haley's one-time best friend who allows herself to be sucked into the vicious world of teen-age girls. Keltie and Fitzgerald are both fine actresses (with Keltie recently giving one of last year's best performances in "Terminus" at the Magic), as are Susan Shay as Mia and Heather Robison as Claire.
The story will resonate with any parent who has lived inside the emotional tsunami of raising a 21st Century teenage daughter. Rucker gives us an end, middle and beginning, in that order. "Crystal Springs" will stay with you awhile.
RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Crystal Springs" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. Writing, acting and staging earn one star each and the BANGLE is for producing a play cast for six women, as well as for the playwright giving us dialogue that never feels out of place. This is a fine show.
The Eureka Theatre
215 Jackson Street, San Francisco
Through March 23