The 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Crimes of the Heart has become a staple among actresses looking for meaty roles in the theatre. A New York-based actress, Wende O'Reilly, coordinated a top-notch production as a special project for her theatre group, Love Creek Productions.
The McGrath sisters of Hazlehurst, Mississippi -- Babe (O'Reilly), Meg (Teri Monahan) and Lenny (Moira Boag) -- are reunited in October 1974 under rather peculiar circumstances. Seems the youngest, Babe, has wounded her big-shot lawyer husband, and has asked restless middle sister Meg to return home to be with her and Lenny, the eldest sister whose birthday everybody seems to have forgotten.
Henley's work holds up well, showcasing her quirky wit and emotional dramatic situations. Suicide and attempted murder may not seem the most jovial of topics, but in Henley's hands it appears early on that everything is going to work out all right.
The sensitive direction by Steven Williams brought out a lot of the tender and tense moments between the sisters and their three visitors -- up-in-everybody's-business Chick (Beth Hallo), Babe's wet-behind-the-ears lawyer Barnette (Matt Klan), and Meg's former beau-who's-still-got-a-crush-on-her-even-though-he's-married, Doc (Brit Herring).
For their part, the cast members handled their Southern assignments well, bringing equal amounts of down-home humor and soft-spoken angst to their well-written roles. Boag was fine as the sturdiest sister who has recently been feeling a bit shaky; Monahan was raucous as the rebellious sibling; and O'Reilly was delightful as the misguided but well-meaning youngest member of the family. Hallo, Herring, and Klan each found moments to make their own as well.
The uncredited technical elements supplemented the fine efforts of the cast and director onstage.
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Copyright 2003 Elias Stimac