Lines of force

The Crimson Thread

By Mary Hanes
Directed by Kevin G. Shinnick
Dr. Guffy Prods./Wings Theatre
154 Christopher Street (627-2961)
Equity showcase (closes Apr. 21)
Review by Doug DeVita

When Kevin Shinnick's production of Mary Hane's lyrical The Crimson Thread was first produced last spring, it was a beautifully acted, well-directed production that overcame the limitations of its bare bones production and dreadful performance space.

Shinnick's production is back (under the auspices of Wings Theatre Company, in association with Dr. Guffy Productions), and in a real theatre with a fully realized production it is better than the already excellent original, a richer and more deeply emotional experience helped in no small way by Shinnick's now highly polished direction of six superb (and mostly new) actresses.

Following the lives of three generations of Irish sisters from the time of the mass migration from Ireland in the mid-1800s, to first-generation Americans, up to the aftermath of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911, The Crimson Thread is a powerful and genuinely moving work. Despite occasional lapses into political-soapbox grandstanding, Hanes observes with an adroit wit, and her play succeeds because her characters are so gut-wrenchingly human and their experiences are so universally identifiable, regardless of sex, ethnic background or political beliefs.

Katherine Puma and Amy Fellers effortlessly found every heartbreaking nuance of two sisters facing the fact they would never see each other again when one of them leaves for a better life in America, the other staying to fight for a better life in Ireland. Kathleen Cahill was once again riveting as a recently widowed young woman lost in her grief. Cassie Boyd, as the sister who saves her from despair, was every bit her equal: fiery and uncompromising as she slowly but surely brought her sister back from the brink. As a study in opposites, the returning Lisa Ann Frisone and the new Natalie Wilder were a better match than in the previous production, Frisone touching in her bewildered incomprehension of a life outside the family circle, Wilder genuinely sympathetic as the sister torn between her roots in old-world traditions and the possibilities as well as attendant responsibilities of life as a "modern" (circa 1911) American woman.

Where this production truly outshone the original was in its gorgeous physical production. Sets, costumes, and especially lighting (by Timothy J. Amrhein, Shana Luther, and Joe Kehoe, respectively) were of Broadway caliber in their conception and execution, and Ahab Seamus provided an original background score that effectively underlined the drama's everchanging moods.

The Crimson Thread, in Shinnick's tasteful and intelligent production, is well worth attending, if a performance of glowing, natural truth is what you're after.
Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Set: 2

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2

Return to Volume Seven, Number Twenty-three Index

Return to Volume Seven Index

Return to Home Page

Copyright 2001 Doug DeVita