Monday, January 16, 2017

"Crimes of the Heart" ☼ ☼ ☼

Three sisters from Hazelhurst, Mississippi, have returned to the family home. The year is 1974 and Ol' Grandad is in the hospital again. It is Lenny's 30th birthday. Played by Therese Plaehn, Lenny is the eldest sister into whose hands the care of Ol' Grandad has fallen. She has summoned the other two home, ostensibly to deal with a new problem the family has on its hands: Babe (Lizzie O'Hara), the youngest, has shot her husband.

All three women have their issues, but only Babe (above, middle) has seemingly done anything about it. Meg (Sarah Moser) has a singer career that has stalled, Lenny is mooning over a man she was too afraid to pursue and Babe figures she will just kill herself. But she's not much good at that either.

The Southern-to-the-hilt cliches come hard and fast with the entrance of Chick Boyle, played by the wonderful Laura Jane Bailey. She is the mother nobody wants, especially since in this family the real mama came to an untimely end, along with the family cat.

We love the ensemble. All four women, plus a sincere Joshua Marx, who plays Barnette Lloyd, Babe's attorney who hopes for more, as well as Timothy Redmond in a smaller role as Doc Porter, are excellent. There really isn't much story except the personal one between the sisters, so the cast has to be top notch. And it is.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Crimes of the Heart" Three Stars, primarily because this is our first review of the New Year, and it doesn't seem right to enthuse about anything right now. This was Beth Henley's very first play (written in 1979) and it won a Pulitzer Prize plus she went on to win an Oscar for the screenplay for the film version starring Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek and Diane Keaton. Nice start, we'd say.

Don't expect anything you haven't seen before. You might feel right at home, if you are from that part of the country, or, like us, you may laugh in all the right places, feel happy when you walk out of the theater, and that's about it.

"Crimes of the Heart"
Mountain View Center for Performing Arts
500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Through Feb. 5

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