Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Criminal Hearts"

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"Criminal Hearts"

by Jane Martin
Directed by Curt Miller

Set Design by Ann Weber
Lights by Catherine Li
Sound by Jason Cahoon
Stage Manager Ciatlin Connolly

Ata Windust............Ann Weber
Bo............................Cindy Bell
Robbie................Peter Vestinos
Wib Windust............Curt Miller

This review is tragically late, because you now have only three more days to see "Criminal Hearts" at The Actors' Workshop, and you should. This Jane Martin script is a screwball comedy that turns larceny, matrimony, and feminism on their ears, and The CAP Players give it excellent performances. This was an acting course scene workshop that grew into a full production, and Ann Weber and Cindy Bell, the principals, Curt Miller their director and bit player Peter Vestinos have made it a hip, intelligent laugh riot. See it if you can.

The opening scene here has an armed burglar (Bo, played by Cindy Bell) bewildered to find the apartment she's cased empty. That's because when the philandering husband of the apartment's inhabitant (Ata Windust, played by Ann Weber) heard she had had a brief affair with one of his law partners, he cleaned all the appliances, furniture, and her jewelry out and took it to a suburban fenced community. So, as the neurotically-tense Ata and the street-smart Bo begin to bond, they resolve to steal it all back again, and they do.

That's enough plot, because its the breezy dialogue and the swiftly bouncing interactions of this pair that make the show such a delight. For instance, when Ata gets her hand on the gun, she finds it impossible to let go of it --- apparently for three whole weeks! Her finger is never off the trigger (matter of fact, she twice fires it accidentally), but every time she happens to wave it in someone's direction, they always flinch in awareness that it is, indeed, a dangerous loaded pistol. Given the ridiculous situation, such carefully observed details in everyone's acting keep the audience engrossed and eager for the sudden twists of plot.

Weber's Ata is pathologically honest and given to huge flights of fancy and elaborate metaphors, even though she initially finds it impossible to leave her apartment, or to vary her diet from delivered pizzas and enough Dr. Pepper to wire a small city. Bell's Bo, on the other hand, is a cynic who says no one should ever tell the truth, and practices what she preaches. She insists she's really a scam-artist whose partner quit, and she's thus forced into burglary as a stop-gap. As she, step by step, reveals her lies to the gullible Ata, and as Ata flamboyantly turns burglar to get her own back, these two hilarious outlaws begin to see the logic f functioning as a team.

Peter Vestinos' Robbie owns the getaway-truck for Bo's heists, and mostly does what he's told. But the lawyer husband Wib (Curt Miller, who directed the show) reveals himself in one brief appearance as just as much a sleazy scam-artist as Bo. Miller has kept the pace breakneck and the details precise, but it is really the energetic interplay of the two actresses here that sends the story hurtling over one logical critique of society's taken-for-granted conventions after another. Again and again the audience ends up rooting for the bad guys to get back what they deserve while laughing their heads off.

And, remember, you have only three days left to laugh your heads off right along with them.
The address just a half an inch down this page.....


"Criminal Hearts" (till 14 May)
Actors' Workshop, 40 Boylston Street, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide