Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Piece of My Heart"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2003 by Mort Kaplan

"Piece of My Heart"

Reviewed by Mort Kaplan

Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 12:21:51 -0400
From: Bailey & Mort Kaplan
Subject: Delvena's "Piece of My Heart"

My wife and I caught the last performance of the show Sat night at the Leland Center before it moves on May 2 & 3 at Lynn Arts.

It's a shame there were not many people attending because it was a relatively damned good performance, excellently/tightly directed and generally well performed by a cast made up of community theatre types, college students and non-equity "pros."

Gillian Mackay-Smith, a NU theatre student has a dominating presence on stage and is someone to keep an eye on. As time goes on, she should be getting roles with some of the other more established companies, unless she prematurely decides to do what too many of our local potentials have done...succumb to the Big Apple and get chewed up before their time.

Cheryl Singleton, Loann West and Justine Curley, in particular, along with Lynne Moulton and Sheryl Rabinovitz give controlled/solid performances. [Although, some of them, every now an then, were turning pages behind the eyes.] Chris Conte who played the male prototype of the military everyman who was everywhere all the time, was always a skosh or two too actorish: Look, ma, I'm acting. But after a while I got used to him and had fun watching him do his thing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I've read lots of reviews lately of many other shows that I have seen that praised the so called "ensemble"--a muchly overused word-- and have wondered why that reviewer/critic used that particular word. Theatre, after all, is a collaborative act and the collaboration to be effective shouldn't be obvious.

At any rate, I think director Janet Bobcean's production--simple, stark set w/the ubiquitous cubes, sparse lighting and selective sound--comes close to the usual usage if the word. Things worked well together, meshed, were worked out in advance and those doing the tasks did so well and with precision. Well drilled is probably more correct than ensemble. [Bobcean, by the way, lest you have forgotten had been a colleague of mine at NU for 20 years where she designed costumes, and is a good friend of mine who also designed numerous shows for me both at NU and elsewhere.] She used the tiny stage extremely well. The blocking was slick and focused and the movement kept the action of the play within its integral rhythm. Can't say that I liked the overly theatrical use of red pieces of material or red string to signify operating-room blood. Although effectively jarring--purposefully--I found its use a bit too obvious for my old-fashioned tastes.

It's a shame that Delvena doesn't get the coverage from the big bucks press that some of the other small, semi-professional, even so-called professional groups do. Maybe they are not pretentious enough? Somebody not making the right connections? Bad/wrong perceptions?

Although the script gets a bit maudlin and repetitious in places, the audience sat in rapt attention throughout: no squirming, no candy wrappers crunching. The applause was honest and forceful and, thank goodness, contrary to local custom, no tasteless standing ovations.

Too bad not many people saw it: the tiny space was just about half full, or empty depending on one's philosophy.

Bailey nudged me as we were leaving and said that in the past ten years or so I have taken her to some shows for which we paid quite a few bucks and weren't half as good or enjoyable to watch. My sentiments, also.

I hope the word gets out and the company's short run at the Lynn Arts has a better house.

"A Piece of My Heart"
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA (12 - 26 April)
Lynn Arts, 25 Exchange Street, LYNN MA (2 - 4 May)
1(781)595-5504 May 2 - May 4 Lynn Arts 25 Exchange Street Lynn, MA Ticket Info: 781-595-5504

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide