The Only Crime Here Is a Lackluster Performance
"Crimes of the Heart" performed their first of three matinee showings on Sunday, Nov. 16, the audience's reception was of dismal approval.
The performance started off strong but slow and seemed to go downhill from there on, until the end of the show.
The problem with the performance was not so much the actors' lack of talent but more with the directing. There seemed to be no direction for this highly anticipated revival.
The surprising aspect that would have appalled any critic in attendance was that the original play, written and directed by Beth Henley, was highly acclaimed from its initial off-Broadway performance at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York.
It was so highly acclaimed that it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play in 1981 and then won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play and the Tony Award for Best Play, a year later, in 1982.
The play is about three grown sisters who find virtue amid life-changing events that could potentially alter there future. They act melodramatic, about their mother's death from years prior, their kitten's death, the death of a horse that was struck by lightning and their grandfather's descent into a coma, throughout the entire play.
The eldest of the trio is Elaine "Lenny" MaGrath, played by Caitlin Flaxman, who has returned back to her terminally ill grandfather's home in the South on her 30th birthday. She is saddened that she has nobody to be around her on such a special day, which makes her feel like an old woman especially because she has shrunken ovaries and can't reproduce.
The middle child, Meg MaGrath, played by Eva Augustina Sinotte, is the only sister to move out of the South to carry on with her ambitions in becoming a diva in the singing/entertainment world of Hollywood. Of course, that doesn't happen as she only gets to sing at a bar here and there and decides to come back home on her sister's birthday-- that she forgot even happened.
The youngest of the bunch is Babe Botrelle (née MaGrath), who is the only one of the sisters to marry. She is na've and, at times, mentally unstable. A lawyer, named Barnette Lloyd, played by Anthony Cloyd, is also representing her after she shot her husband when he found out that she was having an affair with a well endowed 15-year-old teenage "black" boy.
As the ladies meet up at their grandfather's home, their cousin, Chick Boyle, played by Melissa Maxime Bertolone, instigates fights and deceit from all who surround her.
A former love interest of all the ladies, Doc Porter, played by Kuali'i Wittman, shows up at the house and starts to court with his former flame, Meg, even though he is married with children.
At the climax of the play, Babe decides that she would rather kill herself by hanging than go to trial against her husband and potentially be sent to prison. She later reneges on the idea of killing herself when her mother's ghost comes to her and tells her the reason for her (mother's) suicide and the family kitten's death.
All seems to work out well without any cliché elements by the end of the play as Babe falls in love with Barnette; Lenny calling up and setting up a date with her one and only lover in her entire 30 years on this earth; Chick continuing her usual shtick and Meg coming close but ultimately failing to get Doc to run away from his family with her.
To find the silver lining in this clouded play would be to analyze specific elements that made the play still pleasing to the eyes.
The set-up of the stage was magnificent with its beautiful and different backgrounds that accentuated a beautiful two-story Victorian-styled home in the woods under the full moonlighted sky during the evening parts of the play to the clear blue and sun filled cloudless sky during the day-time parts of the play that seemed to heighten the moods of all the characters in every scene.
The cast's wardrobe played a major role in distinguishing the different personalities from all the characters. From Lenny's plaited loose blouse to Meg's seductively vibrant red cowgirl shirt, denim mini-skirt and leathered stilettos to Chick's little black silhouette dress along with her Audrey Hepburn like hairdo-- the wardrobe truly played a big role to this revival, all thanks to Libby Britain, Faisal Salah, Kristie Rutledge and Samantha Wright of the costume/make-up crew.
Overall, the acting was OK, but it definitely featured some talented voice-performers who managed to pull off a thick southern accent from start to finish. Nevertheless, the accents seemed to gain more attention in the scenes than the actual unraveling of the plot.
After speaking to several people in attendance, their reaction was not only disappointed but also confused with the build-up and outcome of the play.
In total, this play had the potential to pull-off an excellent revival of a multi-award winning play, which was later turned into an award-winning film that starred Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek; but seemed to fail miserably by the poor direction of Dr. Adrianne Harrop, who did a better job in setting up the scene with its natural design than actual directing the play.