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A lovely fable told by some top-notch storytellers.

Mara Palma, Tyler Campbell, Bella Orobaton,
Lola Rei Fukushima, and Anjelica McMillan in
This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries,
This Girl Does Nothing
at ArtsWest.
Photos by John McLellan.

Dear Readers, I've often commented on the basics of any good show, storytelling. Without good storytelling, the ability to spin an engaging tale, then what's the point of putting up a show? ArtsWest's current season purports itself to be all about, myths and legends and telling a good story. Well, I'm happy to assert that with their current show, "This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing" by Finegan Kruckemeyer, they have honored that claim as this fable is overflowing with some first class, simple, and effective storytelling. So, let's gather around the campfire and listen to the tale.

It's about three sisters, Albienne, Beatrix, and Carmen (Mara Palma, Bella Orobaton, and Lola Rei Fukushima), triplets to be exact, who may look alike but are very different. The eldest, Albienne, is all about baking and creating scrumptious delicacies. The middle sister, Beatrix, is the explorer and all about being in the sun. And the youngest, Carmen, is a solitary soul who feels the weight of the world on her. When their mother (Anjelica McMillan) dies and their father (Tyler Campbell) remarries, the girls find their once joyful home now strained to the point that one day their father leads the girls far into the woods and tells them they must now fend for themselves. Filled with sorrow and questions, Albienne and Beatrix choose to set off in opposite directions to find their way in the world, while Carmen chooses to stay put and build a life right where she is. And so, their stories begin until the wandering sisters circumnavigate the globe only to come home and share what they've learned.

Now, it must be said, I love a good fable. And Kruckemeyer's has all the right elements, action, adventure, love, laughs, and interesting characters. And, of course, by the end, he gives us some wonderful morals to tie it all together. The girls learn and grow and become better versions of themselves and that's what you want in a good fable.

Tyler Campbell, Mara Palma, and Bella Orobaton
in This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries,
This Girl Does Nothing
at ArtsWest.
Photos by John McLellan.

But you also want a good telling of the tale and thanks to the cast and director Johamy Morales, that's covered as well. Morales sets a beautiful pace of the play as we're never stuck or stagnant in one place yet still able to drink in and feel the emotions of the piece. Plus, she incorporates some fantastic stage craft, using simple tables and chairs, boxes and barrels, to create the worlds we must visit and we're never once left wondering where we are. And she's also managed the impossible, keeping the myriad scene changes simple, short and still engaging. But beyond all the technical, she's infused the play with a great and inviting tone making you want to hear the story and invest in the outcome of the sisters. No matter the sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious circumstance, the warmth of the play shines through.

However, she would not be able to manage this without her stellar cast. The three actresses grab onto their roles and let them inhabit every nuance of their beings. With Palma you can feel her love for the cakes so much that you wonder if there might be one under your chair so you can experience the flavors firsthand. Sadly, there is not. But her commitment to the role is palpable and her eventual transformation beyond the pastry, so to speak, is quite evident. Orobaton is a force of nature and lends an incredibly infectious element of excitement and joy to her character, making her hard to not focus on. Her vivaciousness in every situation cannot be contained. And with Fukushima, you can feel the weight they feel from the first time they're introduced. And this burden comes through so much that when they do finally break free, it's all the more joyful.

But lest you think this is just the three performers, we must mention mother and father. Both practically shine with the love of their family making the eventual dissolution even more painful. McMillan has a beautiful maternal way about her giving the feeling of safety despite the situation and Campbell skillfully portrays a flawed man who may love his family but is trapped in his own circumstance. But beyond those two characters, they both serve as narrators of the piece and play multiple characters throughout. All the performers do, making this a truly wonderful ensemble piece and adding to the clarity and cohesiveness of the storytelling.

And there's that word again, storytelling, which this production seems to have mastered with its writing, direction, and performances, and making this a fantastic evening for both young and old. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give ArtsWest's production of "This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing" a satisfied sigh of a YAY. A lovely fable, a resonating set of morals, and all told by top-notch storytellers. What more can you ask for?

"This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing" performs at ArtsWest through April 10th. For tickets or information visit them online at

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From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)

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