T. Schreiber Studio
CRIMES OF THE HEART
By BETH HENLEY
T. Schreiber Studio, 151 W. 26 St., NYC, www.t-s-s.org, September 30 through October 24, 2004
Directed by PAMELA SCOTT
Set Design ASAKI ODA
Costume Design INGRID PROOS
Lighting Design PETER HOERBURGER
Stage Manager NOELLE FONT
Press Representative SCOTTI RHODES
Lenny Magrath – Jane O’Leary
Chick Boyle – Katherine Wessling
Doc Porter – Trey Gibbons
Meg Magrath – Jennifer Parker
Babe Botrelle – Sandra Cummings
Barnette Lloyd – John Dinan
The T. Schreiber Studio has launched its 2004-2005 season with a charming revival of Beth Hensley’s Pulitzer Prize winning CRIMES OF THE HEART. In a production marked by an impressive ensemble cast, under the steady direction of Pamela Scott, this quirky tale of Mississippi siblings amidst crises of varying severity comes to glorious life on the intimate T.S.S. stage.
Ms. Hensley’s dark comedy is set in 1974, and introduces us to three sisters, their cousin, one’s ex-love and a lawyer with a personal vendetta. As the plot unfolds in CRIMES OF THE HEART, we learn that the youngest sister, Babe, has been arrested for shooting her husband. She not only admits guilt, but sums up her motive with a succinct, "I just didn’t like his stinking looks." No one buys this explanation, but her extreme actions draw her family together on eldest sister and family touchstone Lenny’s almost entirely unnoticed birthday.
Middle-sister and man magnet Meg comes home from her mysterious life in California and quickly stirs things up by lying to her hospitalized grandfather about her famous life out west, and by rekindling sparks with married ex-boyfriend, Doc, a man she abandoned when he was wounded five years earlier. Babe soon confesses to an affair with a fifteen-year-old neighbor, and a life of abuse at the hands of her husband. Local defense attorney, Barnette, comes to her legal aid, drawn by a fondness for her and a hatred of her husband. Even the superficially simple-living Lenny, has had a secret love. The Magrath sisters, and in fact the entire family, seem to be under the spell of their various CRIMES OF THE HEART. The disapproving cousin Chick makes no secret of her long-held shame at being a Magrath relative, as we learn, because the mother of the sisters hanged not only herself, but also the family cat some years back.
So is drawn the universe of CRIMES OF THE HEART. From the description, one might not expect it, but the beauty of this play lies in the humor and down-to-earth reality that emanates. Skillfully handled here, by T. Schreiber Studio, this CRIMES OF THE HEART is a delight to watch. Recommended!
- Kessa De Santis -