“It’s cuz I didn’t like his looks,” says Babe MaGrath, introducing a central conflict of love and loss in “Crimes of the Heart.”
The opening scene immediately engages the 30-person audience on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Salomon Theatre’s production, which opened on Nov. 5, is directed by Walter Williams and stars several PLNU theater students.
Written by Beth Henley in 1978, the play follows the past and present of the three MaGrath sisters as they navigate life in Hazlehurst, Mississippi in the fall of 1974, five years after Hurricane Camille. Lenny, Meg and Babe each struggle with different issues in similar ways: avoidance and isolation.
The theatre set does wonders for developing a homey atmosphere. From Campbell’s soup cans to Bisquick boxes, porcelain roosters to decorative salt and pepper shakers, the set appears to reflect the ‘40s, yet the story takes place in the ‘70s. The abundant nature scene paintings and yellow paisley wallpaper lend a rustic feel to the house. Aspen trees and green fields outside complete the snapshot of a quintessential southern abode. Such a peaceful setting belies the character of the turbulent events unfolding in the drama.
The actors portrayed each character eloquently, drawing the audience in at each turn of events. Lenny is played by senior Laura Hague, who gives off a sense of ferocity fighting for control of her demeanor. .
Babe – played by senior Elizabeth Lambert – is in jail at the outset of the play after shooting her abusive husband Zachary in the stomach. Lambert brings warmth and sincerity to the character, endearing the audience with each outburst of laughter.
“I think it’s an important thing that a person could win an important vendetta,” says Babe to Barnette Lloyd (senior Luciano Gallegos), the new lawyer in town, whose romantic feelings for Babe grow with each passing scene.
Freshman Katie Emma Filby portrays Meg as a true southern spitfire, flippantly brushing off any attempt at introspection.
Chick Boyle acts as her antagonist. Sophomore Samantha Watkins, lends her own charm and humor to the obnoxious and absurd character in the subtle nuances she adds to her lines.
Even when Doc Porter – a love from Chick’s past – reappears, Watkins maintains a sense of apathy that pervades every her movement. Doc – played by senior Dillon Kane – is quiet and reserved, with the hope of a future different from his past shining in his eyes each time he speaks. Kane’s acting draws the audience in with a tender sadness that makes him relatable…
Despite Meg’s desperate fight to remain neutral among the emotional struggles of the characters, she finally exclaims, “It’s an important human need – to talk about our lives.”
In the end, it is this simple discussion of their lives that leads the MaGrath sisters to discover that their ultimate salvation in the midst of the woes and throes of life is in each other. Each of the actors depict the emotional darkness and vulnerability of the characters from the beginning of the play until the closing curtain.
“Crimes of the Heart” is showing again on Nov. 23 in Salomon Theatre.