of Pearls (west coast premiere)|
kate west review
by Michele Lowe; directed by Stephen Sachs
the Road Theatre Company, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood 91601
January - March 2006 ; contact (866) 811-411 or www.roadtheatre.org
in Santa Barbara: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo, S.B.
- May 2006; contact (805) 963-7282; tix $25
of Pearls" is a poetic ensemble piece of female vignettes strung together
like pearls on a necklace requiring a strong ensemble and four strong main actors.
Schultz, Donne McRae (understudying this particular performance), Stephanie Stearns
and Alicia Wollerton all handle this quite well. Each of them plays a multitude
of characters, ranging from (among others) an aging matriarch and a plus-size
lesbian to a career woman and an immigrant cleaning woman. The characters all
have universal appeal but demand that the audience pay strict attention when the
women jump from character to character; it is a bit tricky to follow the quickly
changing story lines.
to the film "The Red Violin," essentially a strand of exquisite pearls
passes from woman to woman, seemingly ending where it started, with the matriarch
(Donne McRae). On its journey, it bestows pleasure on almost every kind of woman
imaginable (in this case twenty-seven total). Whether the necklace is symbolically
the same or the actual physical same necklace is subject to audience interpretation,
although the implied connection between the story beads strongly suggests the
Lowe's original dialogue is lovely and often poignant. While some stories are
not as interesting as others, the overall effect is crowd-pleasing. Also, some
are more strongly connected than others and again, require a certain amount of
concentration. There are no earth-shattering revelations here, but merely quiet
stories about women with varying intensity. What really makes the show is the
ensemble. The women work together very well and showcase their talent admirably.
Director Stephen Sachs creates a nice flow between the vignettes and the actors
keep up the transitions from humor to anger and sorrow just fine, in between the
times reminiscent of the female strength in the film "The Joy Luck Club,"
this is a nice ensemble piece in general, though the story lines could be clearer.
All in all, it makes for a good evening out and as the production moves to Santa
Barbara in the next two months, it might make a pretty good Mother's Day jaunt