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A CurtainUp Review
The stage is dominated by James Noones very handsome, Florida-modern entrance to the gated community of Riddle Key Retirement Community and Golf Course. The three characters appear together only at the beginning, where, under separate spots, each announces "I am a murderer." It recalls the opening of the classic game show, To Tell the Truth, which these characters and actors and many in the audience would remember from the 50s and 60s.
The gates, closed between scenes, open to reveal three consecutive locations, where each artfully executed (pardon the pun) set is completely static like a picture in a frame, and from which each character recounts a tale of murder. Because the three characters cant bond with each other, they bond directly with the audience. The first is a "younger" man who marries his significant others mother so she can help them avoid estate taxes; the second, a cheated-on wife whose husbands old heartthrob has moved to the retirement home; and the third, with the mind of an avenging angel, is in management at the retirement community.
These are marvelously clever tales. The storytellers assume all the various personalities they describe under the beautiful light-touch direction of Michael Bush, who allows each character to emerge as a unique individual without the burden of heavy directorial issues laid over the production.
A smooth and fairly low key Gerald (Brent Langdon) tells the tale of his almost mother-in-law who is also his wife and how they came to be in their situation. In part two, Marylouise Burke plays the excruciatingly well written role of newsy, chatty Lucy. She entertains so engagingly in her "sparky housewife voice" with the story of the horrible Margaret, who came down to Florida to wreck marriages, that the opening night audience broke into sustained spontaneous applause mid-stream in her performance. Burke is that good. Kristine Nielsens Minka is a fascinating character that the psychiatrists in the audience might want to talk to; however, the stage business in this last section is weaker, ie, putting flowers in a vase.
Each character has one significant little activity: Geralds concerns wardrobe, Lucys is about prescriptions, and Minkas is a compulsive little action that conjures a Lady Macbeth. The gratifying little linkages embedded in the stories are among the most satisfying parts of the production, but by the last piece the audience is waiting for more significant connections that dont materialize. And, as Colombo would say, just one more thing: This piece would work just as well as an audio book, which would offer the added advantage of being able to be played in the car. The three important little actions in the scenes could be described in a few words on tape. And the rest of the visuals, as nice as they are, are essentially superfluous. This is, after all, a monologue show.
Hatchers keen observations are accompanied by a wonderful sense of the ridiculous. He supplies wry commentary on old people, their families, and underlying venality, accompanied by a string of golf carts, cul de sacs, and villas. It is a tribute to Hatchers ability that despite the fact that all dramatic action is not presented, but filtered through description, he has created a piece that is simply charming.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide