The Topsy-Turvy Theatre brings David Mamet's "Boston Marriage" to the Waldron's Rose Firebay in a classy production. For fans of Mamet's gritty male dominated "Glen Gary, Glen Ross," "Speed the Plow" or "American Buffalo" there are some interesting surprises and some distinctive satisfactions.
In this comedy-with-manners, Anna, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, and Claire, Stephanie Harrison, are a pair of loquacious and decorous, even formal lesbians at around 1900. Claire has just acquired a wealthy protector, a regular income and a necklace, that in her own words would "choke a horse." The younger Claire asks for her help in seducing a young woman. After protracted negotiations not quite as harsh as those in "Glen Gary " or "Speed the Plow" but every bit as emotionally and linguistically charged, Anna agrees, but only if she can watch. The plot takes a dramatic turn when the young woman recognizes Anna's necklace as her own mother's.
Caroline Dowd-Higgins is a tall sweetly gorgeous woman. As Anna she is a larger than life figure. David Mamet has offered her a loquacious part, frequently non-stop dialogue, and a good deal of hilarity that she's totally unconscious about. Anna has somehow gotten it into her head that their Scots maid, Katie, is Irish and goes into considerable detail about the fact that it was she and her people who were responsible for the potato-famine because of poor crop rotation. Dowd-Higgins delivers her lines as if she were a character in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. At first it was a bit off putting, but quickly seemed totally appropriate.
Kristin Reed was Katie the maid in "Boston Marriage." She was a wonderful example of a terrific actor in a small part. Her most common exit was in tears and most often to the laughter of the audience. But whether she was simply standing in readiness, taking grief from Anna or innocently describing the advantages of love while leaning against a tree, " the view's better. " she was superb.
Stephanie Harrison played Claire, Anna's younger lover. Claire does share in the surprising ending of "Boston Marriage," but her part didn't seem to offer the opportunity for either the eloquence of Anna or the comedy of Katie.
Dathan Powell contributed a nicely functional set design and decoration. Rebecca Disrud's accomplished piano playing neatly set the tone at the beginning and during the intermissions.
The Topsy-Turvy Theatre production of David Mamet's "Boston Marriage," directed by Alex Gulck, plays this Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at eight in the intimate Rose Firebay of the John Waldron Arts Center.
You can find a related audio interview on our Arts Interviews page .