Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Countess"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"The Countess"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The opening show of The Players 94th season is "The Countess". Based on historical events, it tells the story of a notorious scandal in 1853 concerning the marriage of John and Effie Ruskin and their strange relationship with a young painter, John Everett Millais. John Ruskin was a famous critic and writer who has a troubled marriage. He blames all the problems on his wife's instability but we find out he is the troubled one by show's end. Director Tom DiMaggio chooses topnotch performers to pull off this dramatic show with a surprise ending.

Richard Crowley as John Ruskin captures the true spirit of this pompous boor perfectly. His horrid treatment of his wife comes through with his venomous delivery and begrading tone of voice. Laura Sorensen as his wife, Effie, shines in this role. She finally stands up to this vicious ogre by leaving him and running off with a man who treats her properly. Laura shows the torment of this woman and she tries to do the right thing by standing by her man but the situation is too, contemptable to remain in. The third part of this triangle, Millais, is played by Mauro Canepa. He displays genuine affection for Effie by being a proper gentleman until his love for her is too strong to control. Mauro plays this romantic part beautifully.

Ruskin's parents are played by veteran performers, Tom Oakes and Carole Forrest. They are overbearing busybodies who interfere in their son's married life leading to a disasterous finish. They handle both serious and comic lines wonderfully giving the show an added depth. The remaining two characters are sympathetic to Effie's plight and help her finally leave her husband. Laurie Herbst does a great job as Lady Eastlake, handling the nosy busybody mother and overbearing father with ease. Laurie also gives an added dimension to the show when she finally confronts Effie about the problem in her marriage, helping her to realize the problem is with John and not her. Helge Luesebrink plays the loyal servant, Crawley who aids Effie leave the family home. Stage managing duties are handled by Marcia Layden, the newly elected president and she and her very capable staff keep things running smoothly.

So for a look at the Victorian age, be sure to catch, "The Countess" at Players. To join this club for more exciting plays this season contact Lydia at their phone number or just email her at theplayers1909@aol.com Tell them Tony sent you.

"The Countess" (12 - 20 October)
THE PLAYERS
Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 273-0590

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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