Delusions of Grandma

Contemporary Theatre finds warmth in Close Ties; a tight FIT of plays at the Bath House

Bozzone doesn't let this simple plan go smoothly, of course. When Dad arrives, he has company, a new girlfriend named Margaret. She's in a wheelchair and, without giving away the joke, let's just say she's lifelike but a little less than human.

No doubt, Dad, Alz-hammered or not, is a handful. He berates his boys, telling them he'd have been better off "raising chinchillas." He refuses to hug them for fear of getting human scent on his hunting gear, but then he gets frisky with Margaret in front of them. The three men head out into the dawn with their loaded guns for what will be a twisted game of shoot-don't-shoot. Who will make it back alive? Shoot, I'm not tellin'.

Acted with grit and great timing by the trio of Gilbert, West and Malnory, and directed with a light touch by Brenda and Michael Galgan, The Widow Maker makes for an hour of laughs that ends with a cringe. Good work by Margaret, too.

Everybody, but everybody, cries in Close Ties.
George Wada
Everybody, but everybody, cries in Close Ties.

Only one of the other half-dozen one-acts reviewed during FIT's opening weekend is worth recommending. That is Crave, a fugue for four actors by British playwright Sarah Kane, who killed herself in 1999, the year after the play's well-reviewed premiere in London. Produced for FIT by Wingspan Theatre and directed by Rene Moreno, Crave presents four black-clad characters called simply A, B, C and M, sitting in simple chairs side by side onstage. They never rise from the chairs and never touch one another. It's the language that does all the work, going from random--"I'm lost...in this mess of a woman"--to painfully specific--"I hate the smell of my own family."

As lines intersect, overlap and bounce from actor to actor, stories begins to emerge, much like the intertwined plots of the Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia. Mr. A (Mark Oristano) is a confessed pedophile and stalker of young girls. Miss C (the luminous Lydia Mackay) is one of his victims. Mr. B (Regan Adair, superb as always) is lured into an affair with an older woman, Ms. M. (Kristina Baker), who wants a child at any cost.

The quartet cries, screams, babbles and whispers. At one point Adair's Mr. B screams the word "no" 17 times. Crave vibrates with the poetry of want, the dissonant chords of desperation. And it's brilliant--writing, acting, staging, lighting (by Mandy Embry), all of it.

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