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A CurtainUp Review
The Women of Lockerbie
By Elyse Sommer
Crank up an internet search engine to look for "Lockerbie" and you'll come up with a listing of over 60,000 entries that include stories by and about the tragedy and its effect on the quiet little village, including the actual events that inspired Deborah Brevoort's play -- a project undertaken by Lockerbie women to wash and return victims' clothing to their families.
The play brings the Livingstons to Lockerbie for a memorial service which Bill hopes will help his inconsolable wife to move on, as he has tried to do. Against a set that transforms the green hills of Scotland into steps that aptly echo the format of the Greek tragedy Ms. Breevort has fashioned -- The Livingsons' odyssey towards inevitable catharthis that's achieved through their meeting with the Lockerbie women (the Greek chorus) who seek their own closure from grief by saving the victims' clothing from the US State Department's plan to burn them.
Unlike the recently opened revival of A Day in The Death of Joe Egg ( review), which deals more subtly with long-term parental grief and its devasting effect on a marriage, Ms. Breevort has written an eighty-minute elegy of unrelieved grief. There's anger, but no humor. However, the language is quite poetic and so movingly performed, that you tend to overlook the predictability and cliches leading up to the cathartic climax and give in to the sweep of emotions it arouses.
Judith Ivey invests the pie-baking mom with volcanic hate and resentment. She is obsessed with what ifs (What if I'd insisted he take another flight? What if I hadn't insisted he come home for our Christmas party? What if I'd not given my consent to his going so far from home) and how could its (How could this happen to someone who'd always done the right thing?). Larry Pine counter balances her perfectly as the husband whose patience is approaching the breaking point. Good as he and Ms. Ivey are together, Pine's best scene is with Adam Trese, an actor who rarely disappoints, as George Jones, the US government's representative who just wants to get away from this " Siberia of the State Department" assignment to a more interesting posting like Kuwait.
The other characters (Jenny Sterlin, Angela Pietropinto, Kirsten Sieh and Kathleen Doyle) do a good job portraying both the ethereal Greek Chorus and the plain-spoken Scottish women. Jenny Sterlin stands out as Olive Allison, the woman who needs catharthis as much as Madeline; her own outburst of hate providing one of the few unexpected plot twists.
Scott Elliott, who took over as director from the previously announced Wilson Milam, steers the actors smoothly up and down the Greek drama inspired hills. Director, actors and the playwright's language manage to make palatable the bathos of Bill's inevitable bursting into tears and Madeline's joining the women in washing the clothes in the stream at the edge of the stage (another bravo touch by set designer Derek McLane). Thus, even knowing we've been manipulated, we end up dabbing at our own damp eyes and being genuinely touched.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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