Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Top Girls"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2001 by Tony Annicone

"Top Girls"

Tony Annicone

URI Theatre's latest show is the serious British comedy "Top Girls" about Marlene's dream life, work life and home life and is told in a series of vignettes. Director Bryna Wortman has chosen 15 top notch student actresses to play these demanding roles. Besides having excellent accents, (British, Japanese, Scottish, Italian & German) the show is aided by stunning costumes, wonderful lighting and an outstanding unit set. (The best one is the two story house set with exterior on one side and interior on the other.)

Although the first scene is ambigious with Marlene at a dinner party with women of history and legend, it makes sense by the time whole story unfolds. Marlene is played by Junior, Heidi Beckmann. She makes this seemingly cold businesswoman into a three dimensional person in the confrontation scene with her sister. Heidi is a Nicole Kidman lookalike who acts up a storm in this show. Her talent shines throughout and she shows great chemistry with all the other characters in the show. Whether it is an ordinary conversation, an emotional outburst of tears, or an angry confrontation, Heidi delivers the goods. Not only is she a tremendously talented dramatic actress, she is also a talented singer and dancer. Heidi has the right stuff to make it in show business.

Joanna Beecher as Marlene's sister, Joyce and Courtney Edge as Marlene's niece, Angie also shine in their roles. Both girls play bitter characters in the first act and we discover what has led them to this state at show's end. While Marlene is beautiful, her sister is dowdy and unkempt. The sisters reasons for their hatred is their father's working class past and the dull witted Angie. Joanna captures the disillusionment perfectly and her argument scene with Heidi is a dramatic tour de force for both actresses. Her ill treatment of Angie is startling to behold until you find out the reason for it. Courtney is full of life and mischief as Angie playing a 15 year old very naturally. She wants to kill Joyce and live with Marlene. Courtney's poignant asking for her mother at the show's end is breath taking. She also tortures her playmate, Kit (Ratkanhnha Siv) who also delivers a great turn as Angie's younger pal. Both girls make their characters stand out in this large cast.

The figures from history are Isabella, a Scottish world traveller (Kathleen Arcoraci), Lady Nijo, a Japanese courtesan and later a Buddist nun (Pamela Calci) and Pope Joan (Mariam Habib) with the legend women, Kristine Macomber as Gret ( from a Brueghel painting leading women fighting in hell) and Susan D'Orsi as Griselda (the obedient wife from the Canterbury Tales) Appearing in Marlene's dream dinner party these women discuss their children and their deeds. They play their parts complete with accents in tow. They range from prim and proper to barbaric. Kristine plays the hunlike warrior, grabbing bread and stealing the silverware and glasses envoking many laughes. Their tales of woe show the audience how barren and unfulfilling Marlene's life is in comparsion to their lives.

The Top Girls workers, Win (Amanda Clayton) who also plays the waitress in scene 1 and Nell (Elizabeth Gotauco) interview the women seeking employment, a 46 year old Louise (Kelly Cardin) with over 20 years experience and a 21 year old Shona (Erin Olson) with no experience. The 4 girls interactions in their scenes sparkle. Amanda and Elizabeth have some good scenes with Heidi and Courtney, too. They keep the energy and pace moving with their coffee and life dialogue creating interesting scenes to watch. Rounding out the cast are Heather Thistle as Jeanine, an unambitious woman interviewed by Marlene in the first act and Rebecca Fregeau as an indignant, Mrs. Kidd who defends her husband losing his postion to Marlene. She stands up to Marlene until she is told to piss offin a very funny interchange. Director Bryna Wortman pays attention to every detail in this show. The blocking and acting show her expertise to an appreciative audience. Kudos to one and all who make "Top Girls", a top night of serious entertainment.

"Top Girls" (till 3 March)
J Studio, Fine Arts Center, KINGSTON, RHODE ISLAND
1(401) 874-5843

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide