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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Pauline is determined to get rid of Clarissa as she has Henry's other mistresses, but this one is more difficult. The passion in the air pervades the sensibility of young Brandi, whose love for her father borders on incestuous.
Pauline is played by Susan Clark with a towering primeval passion that, despite her public rampages and drinking bouts, is so focused on itself that it has the classic dignity of Grecian tragedy. Passion has fallen out of fashion in much of today's theatre but this Gaelic writer has dipped her pen in the wine-dark lees of Electra and Medea. The other two roles are double cast and, in the performance viewed, Kaye Kittrell's delicate beauty draped her steely interpretation of Clarissa. Rosemary Morgan had a fresh feisty power as Brandi.
The furniture and lamps in Laura Fine's set design echo the 1930s and 1940s more than the present day indicated in the program. Gelareh Khalioun's infinity of appropriate and/or beautiful costumes added versatility to those 70 minutes.
Director Robin Gammell avoids all the pitfalls that could make these women contemptible and pathetic. She seems to have an ear for the fierceness and purity of O'Brien's single-minded fury which the playwright never directs at her women. The plot devices are not as fresh as the pungent prose they're couched in and contemporary writers might be tempted to grumble, "Get a life", but that's not where O'Brien is coming from in this play. She's writing about the life her women already have, the one they're playing the ends of, to use a theatre term.
I've been more moved by O'Brien's novels in which she gives her people more range but when her plays are done right, they come straight from the heart and this Nomad Theatre Company production does everything right. The new company is up to an auspicious start with its choices and productions in its first season at The Matrix Theatre.
Editor's Note: Apparently O'Brien's play fares better with this new company than it did when it premiered at New York's Irish Rep theater. To read that review, go here
Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide
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