Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Criminal Hearts"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark

"Criminal Hearts"

by Jane Martin
Directed by Danielle Leeber

Technical Director David Lucas
Assistant Director Vincent Morreale
Stage Manager Emily Padden
Stage Manager Tonee Jordan
Kara Dunne, Jonathan Sacramone, Vincent Morreale

Ata.........Jennifer Reagan
Bo...........Judith Kalaora
Robbie.......Michael Foster
Wib..........Chuck Schwager
Mrs. Carnahan....Kara Dunne

First of all, let me warn everyone that the Boston Actors Theater's curtain-time is Seven-Thirty. Get there on time because every minute of this comedy is a gem and none of them should be missed. Oh, and I should also caution potential audiences that some of the chracters, from time to time, may be lying. Criminals are like that, you know, and this cast is so well centered in their portrayals that... Well, just keep your wits about you while Jane Martin's cyclone of unexpected events and shifting alliances blows them sky high. I know it's only March, but I still know a Best Show contender when I see one.

What's it about? Criminal acts and criminal hearts of course! It starts with a second-story-man (woman, actually) coming into a woman's darkened bedroom to steal all the furniture and appliances --- that were stolen by the woman's estranged (and strange) husband the week before. All that's left is a matress, a closet-full of expensive designer-originals, and a litter of pepperoni-pizza boxes and empty Dr. Pepper cans. The woman's a neurotic mess of phobias with negative self-esteem, so when she and the thief grab for the gun and begin explaining themselves to one another everything begins to take on a peculiar logic.

Jennifer Reagan has such an open, naive face she Can't be lying, and lithely wirey Judith Kalaora is a Professional liar, so they both must be telling the truth, right? Okay, enter Michael Foster as the accomplice who hauls the furniture, drives the truck, keeps Redsox games on his headset, and looks upon both these slightly ditsy dames with more than a show-me grain of salt. He is a True professional, never involved until he sees a profit to be made --- yet even he sees the delicious logic in stealing Back the wacko-woman's belongings and fencing them for money.

And that brings Chuck Schwager into the action in Act II playing that larceny-inclined estranged hubby [named ... Wib ? ? ? I do not lie here, honest] who is not a criminal. Well okay, he Is a lawyer, glibly arguing himself out of any blame or responsibility, treating his wife like a dish-towel, making a surreptitious play for the thief, yet never endangering the crease in his informal suit.

None of this more than scratches the surface of this extravaganza. I wasn't kidding when I called it a "cyclone of unexpected events and shifting alliances" and no matter what oddities leap to the surface of these odd minds, the cast is so good at making them believable because they believe themselves and believe In themselves.

And I guess Danielle Leeber must be a dynamite director because, every inch of the way, everyone sounds as though they're making up Jane Martin's words on the spot!
So, Get There ON TIME for the opening curtain! You'll be glad you did.
Dr. Pepper anyone? Love, ===Anon. ( a k a larry stark )

"Criminal Hearts" (10 - 18 March)
@ Devanaughn Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1 (866)811-4111

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide