BWW Reviews: THREE TALL WOMEN at the Seattle Rep
The Seattle Rep continues their season with Edward Albee's gorgeous study of one woman's life with "Three Tall Women". And while the production definitely had some shortcomings, there were some powerhouse performances that went a long way in making up for them.
The play itself examines the life of a woman coming to the end of it through the eyes of the woman herself and two caretakers as well as three generations of the woman. No, that does not add up to six tall women. There's still only three as the caretakers take on dual roles later in the play as incarnations of the woman's younger self each with their own point of view of her life at that point. While not much of an overarching plot, the show is really more of a study of what it is to grow from idealistic youth to slightly jaded middle age to sage maturity. There's not much more to say about the play itself without giving away the entire story but I must say that as wonderful and delicious as Albee's language is, I felt it ended about three different times (or rather should have). Each time we came to a stopping point I felt, "OK, this is it, that was ni... oh wait, there's more", which for me was problem number one.
But that problem just allowed for more stage time from the wonderful cast. The characters in the show don't have names, just indicators as the three generations of women are referred to only as Woman A, B or C (in order of oldest to youngest) as well as the character of Boy who appears as the woman's son. Nick Garrison as Boy never had much to say in the show (if anything) but still managed to convey some lovely moments. Alexandra Tavares as C was likable enough although I felt had a lack of focus in the characters she portrayed. Not so the case with Suzanne Bouchard as B who's lightning fast wit and laser focus was ever present throughout. Bouchard is one of those gems of the Seattle Theater scene. You may have heard me gush before about ACT's previous production of "The Women" and Bouchard in the lead was one of the main reasons for that. She's not only just a plain stunning woman but commands the stage with the slightest head tilt or leg cross.
And speaking of commanding the stage there's Megan Cole as A. A layered and devastating performance, Cole had me in her pocket from her first moment as she burst into tears. I didn't know why she was crying but I was right there with her. And her sublime performance only made the second shortcoming even more glaring. As much as I loved watching her up there, Cole had several forgetful moments where she actually had to call for a line and she would be prompted with the line over the PA system. This created doubly heartbreaking moments as when she was on she was ON and then we would just slam on the breaks as we were taken out of the world with the reality of the theater barging in. Now I have to say in her defense, this is an older woman with a ton of lines, most of which wander off into tangents upon tangents so it cannot be easy. But it must be mentioned. As jarring as it was, after the prompting Cole would go right back into each beautiful moment with seeming ease.
Taking the reins on this very difficult piece is director Allison Narver who keeps the pace clicking while still allowing the audience to feel every nuanced moment. Add into that a beautifully stark set by Matthew Smucker and glorious costumes by Melanie Taylor Burgess and even with the shortcomings, the show is solid. And were it not for the glaring issues, it would have been an absolute triumph. But no matter how you dress up the elephant in the room, it's still there none the less and will not be ignored. This leaves me of two minds about the show and in a quandary of how to feel. But all in all, I have to say the show is worth the time and I can only hope over time will improve.
Photo Credit: Chris Bennion