Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Effect of Gamma-Rays on Man-in-The- Moon Marigolds"

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entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"The Effect of Gamma-Rays on Man-in-The-Moon Marigolds"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of Providence College's season is "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds". It is a 1964 play written by Paul Zindel, a playwright and science teacher. Zindel received the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for the show. The play revolves around the dysfunctional family consisting of single mother Beatrice and her two daughters, Tillie and Ruth who try to cope with their abysmal status in life. The play is a lyrical drama reminiscent of Tennessee Williams' style. Shy Matilda Hunsdofer prepares her experiment, involving marigolds raised from radioactive seeds for the science fair. She is, however, constantly thwarted by her mother, Beatrice who is self-centered and abusive, and by her extroverted and unstable sister, Ruth who submits to her mother's will. Beatrice constantly tries to stamp out any opportunities Tillie has of succeeding, due to her own lack of success in life. Despite this, Tillie secretly continues to believe that everyone is valuable. Her dreams of winning an award are a source of happiness in the midst of her mother's bitterness and her sister's embarrassing conduct. Director Kathleen Moore Ambrosini cast all five roles wonderfully and obtains marvelous results with the three leading players. Their gut wrenching performances are beautifully portrayed.

Katherine is aided in her task by the scenic design by Katryne Hecht, ( a sprawling 3 story 1940's house set) lighting design by Tim Cryan, costumes by Lisa Batt-Parente and sound by Paul Perry. The sprawling 3 story 1940's set is the home of the Hunsdofer family on Staten Island, NY in the late 1940's. PC senior Suzanne Keyes commands the stage as Beatrice. She gives a show stopping performance as this mother from hell driven to the edge of sanity by her deep seated feeling, kills Tillie's pet rabbit, Peter. Beatrice ends up wallowing in her own perceived insignificance. Suzanne captures the domineering attitude and the quick tempered character perfectly. Suzanne has a touching scene with Ruth at the end of the first act when she tells her about her father selling vegetables.Liz McNamara who is a junior, wins the sympathy of the audience with her charming portrayal of Tillie. She wins the science fair due to her own perseverance. Liz succeeds in this role giving Tillie a chance to shine in the sun when she wins the contest. One of her lines in the show is "if one can hold on to one's faith, and can see past the immediate ugliness to the beautiful potential in the world, there is the possibility not only to survive but also to triumph." Sophomore Dora Mighty plays Ruth wonderfully. She does beautiful work as Ruth attempts to stand up to her mother calling her Betty the loon. After the death of the rabbit she has a nervous collapse near the end of the show. Rounding out the cast is Kathryn Marks who appears as Janice Vickery in one scene and garners many laughs with her funny experiment involving boiling the skin off a dead cat and Danielle Demisay as the elderly boarder,Nanny who Beatrice constantly verbally abuses and harasses. (Kathryn and Danielle will play each others role next weekend.) So for a look back at a prize winning show from the past be sure to catch this one at Providence College.

"The Effect of Gamma-Rays on Man-in-The-Moon Marigolds" (29 January - 7 February)
PROVIDENCE COLLEGE
@ Angell Blackfriars Theatre, Smith Center for the Arts, River Avenue, PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401)865-2218

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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