BWW Review: MARY PAGE MARLOWE at The Alchemy Theatre
Welcome to The Alchemy Theatre, a new Austin venue presenting the regional premiere of Mary Page Marlowe from playwright Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) at the Mastrogeorge Theatre. Mary Page Marlowe showcases nineteen high-caliber artists who give us eleven glimpses, (in nonlinear order) into the life of one woman, and the results could not be more compelling.
Mary is no angel, villain, or heroine any more than the rest of us. She's an average woman doing her best to make it with who she is and what she's given. Her life has its share of hard knocks and blessings, and she ultimately learns to accept herself as she is, scars and all. Personally, I love that message. It's comforting to be reminded that the human condition is universal, that we shouldn't judge. After all, it's difficult enough to understand ourselves much less anyone else. It's extremely messy, isn't it? This business of living I mean. People are extremely complicated creatures and no matter the relationship all we can see of one another is a tiny sliver of that person.
Seven different actors bring the title character to life between the years of 1946 and 2015 and the results are mesmerizing. The technique of skipping forward and back through time is allows the plot to foreshadow, reveal and revisit various aspects of Mary's life and her relationships.
With direction from legendary three-time Emmy award winning actor Robert Walden, each moment of Letts' extraordinary text is lovingly and carefully explored. Blessed with a cast of some of Austin's finest, Walden extracts memorable performances from every artist. There is no dead weight here whatsoever, the performances move along nicely without feeling rushed. The set/lights/sound are spot-on with smooth transitions between scenes and nice period costuming.
I wish I could write something about every one of these dedicated artists but unfortunately my space is limited. I have had the pleasure of reviewing a few of them before, some are new to me, and now all of them are indelibly etched in my memory. They are: Leah Ashten, Katy Atkinson, Janelle Buchanan, Carly Christopher, Larissa Dali, Belle Davis, Jon Michael Davis, Kim Jackson Davis, Marissa Davis, Cynthia Fray, Nancy Gray, Joel Gross, Giselle Marie Munoz, Kimberley Pember, Garry Peters, Joshua Phipps, Diego Rodriguez, Margaret Sloane, and Nicholaus Weindel.
Keep these names in mind as I strongly suspect you will be hearing a great more about them and about The Alchemy Theatre.
I highly recommend Mary Page Marlowe, with performances through June 1. Tickets are available at: THEALCHEMYTHEATRE.ORG