Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Broadway Theater Review: Three Tall Women TOP PICK

Glenda Jackson, Alison Pill and Laurie Metcalf. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe.
Three Tall Women
By Edward Albee
Directed by Joe Mantello
Golden Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
Three women give towering performances in an excellent Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women directed by Joe Mantello.

Glenda Jackson, after an absence of decades to attend to politics (she was a member of Parliament) makes a triumphant return to the stage as A -- the older of three women talking about the ups and downs of life. B and C (Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill) are a middle-aged woman caring for older A and a young up-and-coming woman sent by A's attorney to get her affairs in order.

Sarcastic B joins forces with rude C as she shows no tolerance for the aging A, especially when the physically deteriorating, crotchety old woman has to be helped to the bathroom.

"There's nothing the matter with me," C says smugly.

"Well, you just wait," B replies.

B swings over to taking A's side in the sometimes nasty banter, however, especially when A shows she hasn't lost her sense of humor.

The scene suddenly changes when A suffers a stroke and the relationship between the three women becomes clearer as they reflect on life  (the elegant bedroom set is designed by Mirian Buether). Money doesn't buy happiness and things that might be unforgivable at one stage of life suddenly don't seem so important when death looms.

"Silly, silly girl; silly baby," B chides C. "The happiest time? Now; now . . . always. This must be the happiest time: half of being adult done, the rest ahead of me. Old enough to be a little wise, past being really dumb . . . "

Three Tall Women won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1994 and it stands the test of time. It doesn't hurt that three dynamic actresses dive into the parts. Jackson is fascinating to watch. At 82, she is a formidable presence on the stage. I would bet that if Albee, who died in 2016, had a chance to experience a day back on the planet, he would choose to come see these actresses performing his play.

Metcalf, always excellent, seems particularly at home with B's dry humor. She puts it over well and gives the play its well needed relief. Pill brings complexity to her character. Not only is she the fresh-faced youth unconcerned about old-age issues she doesn't believe she'll ever have to deal with, she is vulnerable and concerned that life won't turn out the way she has envisioned. Mantello let's them find the characters and deliver powerhouse performances. Some of his blocking makes it difficult to see reactions form the other actresses while onc is speaking, however. Some of this could be interpreted to have one phase of life obscure another, but I think it would have given even more depth to be able to see reactions.

In an hour and 45 minutes that ends all too quickly, Three Tall Women show us what excellent theater looks like at the Golden, 252 West 45th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm and 8 pm;  Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $47-$159:  threetallwomenbroadway.com

Additional credits:
Ann Roth, costume design; Paul Gallo, lighting design; Fitz Patton, sound design; Campbell Young Associates, hair and makeup design.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
--Sexual dialogue
-- Ethnic slurs
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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