BWW Review: THIS SIDE OF CRAZY at New Conservatory Theatre Center is Del Shores Dramatic Confrontation of a Narcissistic Mother and Her Three Daughters
This Side of Crazy
Written and Directed by Del Shores
New Conservatory Theatre Company
Never assume. I was hoping for another installation of Del Shores manic, crazily dysfunctional Southern soap opera characters ala Sordid Lives, so I was a little thrown off by this almost gothic melodrama exploring the tragic circumstances of the Blaylocks, mother Ditty (Christine Macomber), a faded Gospel music superstar and her three estranged daughters Rachel (Cheryl Smith), Bethany (Amy Meyers) and Abigail (Alison Whismore). The usual Shores barbs, looniness and cornball humor are in short supply here, replaced by hardcore acrimony, recriminations, guilt and remorse.
First we meet Rachel as she has 'unnatural carnal relations' with her comatose husband. She' stayed home to care for him and bear the criticisms of her controlling mother. Nothing's good enough for mamma and she must be hoping that Ditty, who plays Russian Roulette with an unloaded gun, would finish the deed. Rachel is the 'least of her mother's disappointments', Bethany being a lesbian, ex-stripper and Abigail a patient in a mental facility in lieu of prison for assaulting Rachel's husband in a fit of rage.
The plot revolves around Ditty's narcissistic plans for a lifetime tribute to herself where she hopes to present a reunion of the Grammy award-winning Blaylock Sisters, who haven't seen each other in 25 years. Bethany and Abigail show up and the four women begin a rancorous reunion that goes on for way too long. Rachel stole Abigail's fiancée leading the to the tragic circumstances that changed both their lives.
The acting is fine throughout, even though the characters have little depth besides their almost caricaturist familial roles. Its August Osage County lite, in need of script tightening and condensed length. Kate Boyd's multi-level set is a delight, giving private spaces for the characters to inhabit. The confrontations are harsh and emotional with a couple of epiphanies to wrap the drama up in a nice bow.
This Side of Crazy continues through October 20, 2019 at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. Tickets available at www.nctcsf.org or by calling 415-861-8972.
Photos by Lois Tema.