Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Women"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey

Sensational Spit and Polish
at SpeakEasy Stage

By Beverly Creasey

Scientists claim that women speak twenty thousand words a day, where men spout a mere seven thousand. It’s no wonder, then, that Clare Boothe Luce’s catty romp, THE WOMEN, is so delightful. You may remember the star-studded 1939 film (with a script by that other spitfire scribe, Anita “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” Loos, with Joan Crawford as the homewrecker.) Director Scott Edmiston’s version is even more fun---and more inventive. Edmiston makes Nancy Carroll an acerbic tongued author (not unlike Dorothy “One more drink and I’ll be under the host” Parker) who observes, pens the story and becomes one of the characters. The women of the title, who love gossip more than they value friendship, are never happier than when one of their group is suffering—usually over a stray husband.

Luce’s comedy of wealthy manners centers around a trusting wife (Anne Gottlieb) who is sure her husband isn’t cheating, that is, until her friends let it drop. Evidently in l936, divorce was all the rage, so off she goes to Reno. The life lesson we are to learn is not so much “Don’t get mad, get back at him” as it is “Don’t get divorced, get him back.” Gottlieb comes into her own when she decides to bare her perfectly polished claws.

Edmiston rachets up the hissy fits and lets the twenty fabulous actresses have at Brynna Bloomfield’s silky scenery. Maureen Keiller, as the happy bearer of bad news, is such a deft comedienne, that a look –or those eyelashes—can break you up. The rest of the cast give her a run for her money, though, with Kerry Dowling a close second as the new mother who “has kids like shelling peas” and can’t wait for them to leave the pod. Mary Klug gets a leg up on the competition as the flighty, much married countess and Ellen Colton makes magic as a two-faced manicurist and then as the cowboy hostess-with-the-mostest on top of old Smoky.

Georgia Lyman is the nasty blonde (of course!) husband poacher. Sandra Heffley does hilarious double duty as a righteously indignant nurse and a tough broad who does her own hair. Sonya Raye creates sparks as the glamour puss and Aimee Doherty creates warmth aplenty to melt that butter in her mouth. Alice Duffy, as the mother no one listens to, and Amanda Hennessey as the no nonsense “office” wife, look like they stepped right out of one of those screwball comedies. Gail Astrid Buckley’s costumes are simply delicious. And if all the witty, naughty banter isn’t enough, they sing, too. So what’s not to love?

"The Women" (22 September - 21 October)
The Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA

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