Dramashop's Crimes definately excellentDon't be dismayed by the title of Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart; it isn't the tearjerker it could have been. Despite many family tragedies and references to diseases, Crimes of the Heart is a very entertaining and endearing comedy-drama. Henley's intelligent script has been well interpreted and performed by the MIT Dramashop.
The story involves three witchessisters in a small Mississippi town in the early 70's. The oldest has just turned 30 and is depressed about herself and her family. The youngest has recently been arrested for shooting her husband, a local politician and powerbroker. The middle sister, an aspiring singer whose career is on the rocks, has recently returned form California.
In the few days covered by the play, the sisters go through a rollercoaster of triumphs and tragedies. Henley's excellent dialogue and twisting plot, supplemented by an often hilarious comedy kept Crimes of the Heart from becoming the boring melodrama it could have been.
The energy with which the play is performed only improves it. The Dramashop people have put a lot into this play, and their enthusiasm rubs off on the audience.
The three leading characters all performed well in distinctive ways. Dorothy Dartland '86, sporting a nice tan and a even nicer low-cut shirtas the second sister, turns in some hot and cold acting, sometimes overdone or messy, but more often excellent. Carol Van Zoren G is more consistent as the frantic older sister. Her scratchy voice is well suited for the character's character. Lee Higgins W '87 is delightfully screwy as the youngest sister, a kind of Tennessee Williams Valley Girl.
Aside from some not-too-good Southern accents, the rest of the acting was good. Anna Lisa Fear '85 plays the snobby, social-climbing cousin. Wayne Heller '86 played the middle sister's ex-boyfriend. Michael Pauken '87 is good as the nerdly young lawyer.
Strong direction by Robert N. Scanlan '70 is evident throughout.
Dramashop's production also features the best set design of any play I have ever seen in the Kresge Little Theater. It was a location play, but with a very rich set. This Dramashop fare is the best MIT play I have ever seen. If Spring Weekend keeps you away this weekend, be sure to catch it the next. Theater like this on MIT's campus is too good to pass up.