If you can imagine a play where the audience all claps at a birthday girl's blowing out her candles, where chasing a nasty cousin out of the kitchen with a broom leads to romance, and where the cast and the entire audience are all somehow laughing at the family patriarch's having slipped into a coma, then you've either got a really weird imagination or you've had a chance to see Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart, in rotation at the Crosssroads Repertory Theatre on the ISU campus.
Crimes of the Heart is the story three eccentric sisters living in a small southern town a few years after hurricane Katrina. Carolyn Conover, as the repressed McGrath sister Lenny, is reeling under a triple whammy of misfortunes: Her beloved horse has been struck by lightning, she has a shrunken ovary, and no one seems to have remembered that it's her birthday.
Jennifer McVey plays Meg, the beautiful and talented McGrath, who is just coming home from a failed singing career that landed her in a psychiatric ward. Amanda Miller is Babe, the simplest of the sisters, who's in jail after getting so tired of her husband's looks and voice that she shot him.
Beth Henley is a magician. She weaves together these tales of three lives that may seem totally logical to the characters, but totally bizarre to the audience. For instance, after Babe shoots her husband, her first move is to make a pitcher of lemonade. Well, she explains, her throat was just so dry after all that tension, what else could she do? Even though her husband was unable to move or speak, she offered him a glass. Only after noticing that the rug was getting all bloody did she call the hospital.
The Supporting Cast
Ashley Dillard plays the nasty next door cousin, Brandon Wentz Meg's sympathetic old boyfriend Doc Porter, and Andrew Todd Babes' romantically smitten lawyer.
Crimes of the Heart begins with sad solitary sister Lennie trying to stick a single birthday candle onto a cookie; it ends with the three sisters all laughing together as they share dinner plate-sized triangles of a huge cake. In between there are tensions, frustrations, guilty and innocent laughs, and a wild evening of theater with this fascinating family.