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"The Women"

By Clare Boothe Luce
Directed by Scott Edmiston

Set Design by Brynna Bloomfield
Costume Design by Gail Astrid Buckley
Assistant Costume Designer Deborah Hobson
Lighting Design by Scott Clyve
Original Music & Sound Design by Dewey Dellay
Assistant Sound Designer Nathan Leigh
Hair & Makeup Design by Jason Allen
Assistant to the Director/Dramaturg Suzanne Bixby
Assistant Stage Manager Kevin Robert Fitzpatrick
Production Stage Manager Dawn Schall DesLauriers

Nancy Blake............................Nancy E. Carroll
Peggy Day.................................Aimee Doherty
Edith Potter...........................Kerry A. Dowling
Sylvia Fowler...........................Maureen Keiller
Mary Haines...............................Anne Gottlieb
Jane....................................Elizabeth Hayes
Countess de Lage..............................Mary Klug
Olga/Lucy/Dowager..........................Ellen Colton
1st Hairdresser/Helene......................Sheryl Faye
2nd Hairdresser/Debutante.............Courtney Branigan
Miriam Aarons................................Sonya Raye
Little Mary.................................Sophie Rich
Mrs. Morehead...............................Alice Duffy
1st Saleswoman/Sadie......................Shelley Brown
Model/Miss Trimmerback/Cigarette Girl...Elisa MacDonald
2nd Saleswoman.............................Kerrie Kitto
Crystal Allen.............................Georgia Lyman
Instructress.............................Carly Sakolove
Maggie...................................Sandra Heffley
Miss Watts........................Amanda Good Hennessey
Nurse....................................Sandra Heffley
Casino Roof Ladies
Sheryl Fay, Amanda Good Hennessey, Kerrie Kitto, Carly Sakolove

When Clare Booth Luce wrote "The Women" I was about four, but the SpeakEasy production at the BCA of this comedy of bad-manners still allows women to say aloud tart truths about marriage (and divorce) that still crackle with pepper truth and originality. And Director Scott Edmiston has twenty feisty ladies on Brynna Bloomfield's abstractly sumptuous set --- most of whom I have been in love with for many years.

Like who? Well, start with Nancy E. Carroll (Remember "Homebody/Kabul"? Mrs. Lovett? "Frozen"?) starting each act typing the stage-directions and stalking caustically into the action as the play's only self-confessed "virgin" observer. She is a Luce cannon, spraying shrapnel and collateral damage in all directions while partying with all her friends.

Then there's Maureen Keiller ("The Wild Party" "Pulp" "The Claire de Lune") spinning a web of gossip and confidences "for your own good, dear" about whose husbands are straying, who's about to board the Reno express.

Her target is Anne Gottlieb (Cleopatra!) as an innocently trusting wife & mother of 12 years who, unfortunately, has a lot to learn about her husband, and about her "friends".

At play's end Mary Klug ("The Beauty Queen..." "Shear Madness") is an unreconstructed featherhead facing her fifth divorce while still eager to be ruled by "l'amour"!

The one voice of sanity here is Alice Duffy ("Shear Madness" Heartbreak House"), the sincere, practical mother outlining the best compromises with woman's reality her daughter can hope for.

Kerry A. Dowling ("Bat Boy"! "A Class Act"! "Company") isn't singing, as the permanently pregnant member of this gossip-circle too busy providing progeny to divorce anyone.

But these (and Aimee Doherty [ "Into The WQoods" "Promises, Promises"] and Sonya Raye ) are the the curdled cream of society: monied matrons, spending their time commanding servants and demanding attention of shop-girls and manicurists --- who bite these hands that feed them with delicious gossip seen from the underside. Sandra Heffley is a nurse angry and overworked enough to tell her "suffering" patient what a Really bad pregnancy is like; Amanda Good Hennessey is an "office-wife" proud that, as his secretary, she sees her boss more than his wife does; Ellen Colton (look sharp; she plays Three roles here each with chameleon-like uniqueness!) is a warbling, philosphic dude-ranch denizen out in Reno; Shelley Brown ("Marvin's Room"! Bernarda Alba ), Kerrie Kitto, Elisa MacDonald, Carly Sakalove and Sheryl Faye all do multi-role work here, flitting from servant-uniforms to scene-swelling gowns. And (back from studying Shakespeare in D.C.)Elizabeth Hayes is a lady's maid describing what she saw and heard of her mistress' marriage shattering as though it was a radio-serial or a women's-picture movie, while Sandra Heffley adds counterpoint comments between shots of Irish whiskey.

I don't remember having seen Georgia Lyman --- the shop-girl schemer social-climbing husband over husband --- nor Sophie Rich --- the "Little Mary" daughter tossed from mother to mother by divorce --- before; but I expect I'll see both of them again, and soon.

Scott Edmiston has kept this big slice-of-thirties extravaganza moving, with its quips and zingers rattling off like firecrackers, lively and light, with recurrent stings like a swarm of black-flies. And one dazzling aspect of the whole is the flood of sumptuously delicious costumes that Gail Astrid Buckley and her assistant Deborah Hobson have whipped up for the over twenty-nine named characters to wear --- from modelled lingerie to vibrantly vivid ball-gowns. The entire cast enjoys walking around in them --- being, even dressed to the nines, women with their hair down, telling truths.

Love,
===Anon.
(a k a larry stark)