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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, now respectable wives and mothers, return to their childhood home. As they remember their youth, they doff their black silk Victorian dresses and, in white petticoats and pantalets, recall the erotic frustrations of adolescence. Pen adds some lines of her own but they never jar with Rossetti's "If we love an apple, must we never more desire a peach?" Pen writes. The girls sing an elegy to the chances that are passing with their youth. They're primed beautifully by Pen's dramaturgy for their encounter with the goblin merchants selling luscious fruits down by the brook. Pen even makes a word game of the names of the fruits, apples oranges, etc. Each player is forced to remember them all and add one, like the 12 Days of Christmas song.
It's Laura who succumbs to the enticements of the goblin men, stuffing herself with fruits, and coming home sated, dazed, able to think of nothing but the next night. But the next night, it is only Lizzie who is able to hear the goblins' seductive call. Devastated by her rejection, Laura dwindles and fades like their friend "Jeanie in her grave who should have been a bride, But who for joys brides hope to have Fell sick and died." Lizzie, desperate to save her adored sister, goes to the brook herself to bargain with the goblin merchants.
Pen's script, under the sensuous direction of Martin Bedoian, teases out the erotic imagery in Rossetti's poem. Production elements include a set design by Jason Z Cohen which incorporates a delicate Victorian dollhouse and antique chests. Behind the window panes lush trees and greenery come up under Dave Mickey's lighting design when the sisters visit goblin country.
Supported by an excellent piano and string quartet, both Tami Tappan Damiano as Laura and Jennifer Pennington as Lizzie provide the delicate clear voices and passionate playful acting that interpret the ripples and depths of this strange piece perfectly. Pen has interpreted both the feminism and the longing in Rossetti's poem with music that is as true to the Victorian era as to ours and this production hits all the right notes.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide