Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Gray Sisters, Third Rail (Grade B-)

Playwright: Craig Wright
Director: Slayden Scott-Yarbough

Sarah  ( not called Sarah in the play, called Pokey)   ...    Stephanie Gaslin
Pam    ...    Maureen Porter
Anya    ...    Valerie Stevens
Dina    ...    Gretchen Corbett

sez says: this play was written for Third Rail--and that is a wonderful and deserved compliment to the company but--the play itself feels unfinished, not fully fleshed-out. That is not the company's problem--but the play's problem.  It is a good play in many ways..but it is rough in places and doesn't quite all hang together.  The women of the company did fine jobs with the material--esp Stephanie Gaslin and even more so, Valerie Stevens.  But fine performances can't fill in for the empty spots in the play.

The play is about a family that has baggage. The men of the family have been either 1) absent/unavailable (even when present) and, when a replacement is found step-dad turns out to be 2) a good-dad/bad-dad. Meanwhile mom is an oblivious sidelight with her own weaknesses.  We learn this -and much more -- via four monologues (one for each actor/sister) that build upon each other, each adding late breaking news and detail about the past, and thus a story is told of parental betrayal and the forever-after coping with that betrayal. It is harrowing at times.  And it comes real close to falling into the abyss of lets bash parents for all the problems of the world. Where it is good is when it begins to show that the children are really very much like the parents they are struggling to cope with. This is best seen via Porter's character--as she talks to her mother--we glimpse that her characters may well be not much different than the mother she is complaining about.  Meanwhile the play seems to want to say, as Anya tells her son after the plays most emotionally draining scenes, life is worthwhile, even at its worst.  It might have made that point with more to prove it is true, if there had been more relationship between the sisters. But--that might come--becasue I bet this play will go though  some more revisions before it is really finished. If it does, I'll back and see it again. If it is never revised --then I wouldn't bother going in for a second round. It was ok for one performance but without some more work it will probably not go anywhere from here. That would be too bad   (Grade B-)

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