Friday, February 15, 2008

Crimes of the Heart

I was really looking forward to seeing this production of “Crimes of the Heart.” I had seen this play a couple times before and always loved it; this production was supposed to be especially good. It got raves last summer in Williamstown and was moving to Off-Broadway intact -- the same cast and Kathleen Turner once again directing.

So what happened? The show I saw Wednesday afternoon was lifeless and plodding. I would never have guessed that Sarah Paulson, Jennifer Dundas and Lily Rabe (left to right in photo) had played the Magrath sisters together before, and apparently so successfully. They seemed as if they were feeling their way with their roles in rehearsal. And their accents -- not only did they not sound as if they were from the same family, they didn’t sound as if they had grown up in the same town or even the same state. Their southern accents were all over the map, with none sounding authentic.

Luckily I like this play, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981, so the afternoon wasn’t a total waste. I’m a sucker for southern gothic, maybe because I’m technically a southern, Baltimore being just south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Baltimore’s not that easy to classify, though. It’s been called a northern city without the vitality and a southern city without the charm, which isn’t entirely true. Baltimore does have some pockets of charm. It’s not elegant charm like in Charleston or Savannah, but it does have a sort of down-home and quirky charm.

Possibly I just caught an off performance of “Crimes.” Matinees are often not as lively as evening shows, although this was a press performance so that usually ups the presentation.
“Crimes of the Heart” plays at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St., through April 13th.

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