Sunday, May 14, 2017

Word 4 Word: "Smut" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼


Alan Bennett, author of The Madness of King George, Prick Up Your Ears and The History Boys, among others, is a literary icon in his native England. His 2011 two-story collection "Smut: An Unseemly Story (The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson)" has now been adapted for the Word 4 Word stage by Amy Kossow. It is a smashing success, one of the finest and funniest Word 4 Words we have seen.


Nancy Shelby plays Mrs Donaldson, on the surface a middle-aged widow with little joy in her life. She takes a job at a local medical school as an actor-out of various medical maladies, in order to teach medical students how to react during real-life diagnoses. Her boss, Søren Oliver as Mr. Ballantine, is magnificent in his frustration with his students' lack of humanity as well as his growing attraction to Mrs. Donaldson.


Enter the boarders: Rosie Hallett and Andre Amarotico as two young medical students, whose proposition to Mrs. Donaldson seems preposterous at first: they will allow her to observe them making love in lieu of paying the weekly rent. We then watch Mrs. Donaldson warm to the subject matter before her, which leads to a lovely ending.


Robert Parsons is excellent, as always, as another of Mr. Ballantine's stable of actors. Likewise Delia MacDougall as the dowdy daughter as well as Mrs. Donaldson's friend with whom she can share her intimate secret. But the show is about Mrs. Donaldson. We learn and we grow and then the unexpected takes us new places.


RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
 
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Smut" Four Stars. It's that good. The entire ensemble of actors, the story, the adaptation and direction earn one Star each. There is nothing not to love here -- "Smut" delivers. (It usually does.)


"Smut: An Unseemly Story (The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson)"
Z Space Below
450 Florida St., San Francisco
Through June 11
$40-$60










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