BWW Review: Poignant, Dramedy CRUMBLE (LAY ME DOWN JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE) Opens Women's Theatre Festival
What do you get when you cross a grief-stricken mother, a bomb-making daughter, a crazy cat lady for an aunt, an apartment mourning for better days, and an apparition manifesting himself in the form of Justin Timberlake and Harrison Ford? Sheila Callaghan's play Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), which is the first installment of The Women's Theatre Festival's (WTF's) third season.
Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake) premiered to critical acclaim in 2005 during EdgeFest in Los Angeles. The dramedy explores the relationship between Clara and her 11-year old daughter Janice, one year after the untimely death of Janice's father. Despite Clara's efforts to nurture and indulge Janice during Christmas, their relationship is crumbling, as is their apartment. Even Clara's well-meaning sister, Janice's Aunt Barbara, doesn't have the answers, nor do the ghosts of Christmas past, which appear in the form of Justin Timberlake and Harrison Ford. Ultimately Clara and Janice can only find solace in each other following an explosive climax.
Kimmy Fiorentino's manic performance as Janice is palpable, while Laquana Henny's performance as Clara, Janice's mother, is both convincing and believable. But it is Laurel Ullman's wistful and evocative performance as The Apartment that truly stands out and brings some clarity to Callaghan's wacky narrative.
Kayla M. Kaufman's minimalist staging of this piece is enhanced by Victoria Peach's effective sound design, Matthew Adelson's lighting, and The Murphey School Auditorium space, which oddly conforms itself to the apartment, a character with a rich history of its own.
There is something comedic, poignant, and unexpected about Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake), which makes it a valiant start to WTF's "Women as Heroes" third season.
Photo credit; Laurel Ullman as The Apartment in WTF's production of Crumble, Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake. Photo by Proctor Photographics.