Jeff Smith 12:01 p.m., March 29
String of Pearls
A string of perfectly matched, rosee pearls goes on a 35-year odyssey in Michelle Lowe's sketchy, episodic, at times moving drama at North Coast Rep. Along the way it encounters tragedy, hope, emptiness, and performs Houdini-like escapes, for example, from a grave and the belly of a fish. The 100-minute, intermissionless play has 27 characters, most of whom are unidimensional and sprint by too fast. Unlike Lowe's hip, funny Smell of the Kill at NCRT in 2005, much of String is narrated, which makes for long, undramatic passages. The play's not only talky, it often describes, rather than feels, its emotions. The pearls come in a blue velvet box, which Marty Burnett's spare, appealing set recreates on stage, the pearls a shiny, cream-colored platform and table. Four women play all the characters (and do some amazing, split-second costume changes). At times the acting's uneven and lacks subtexts, due in part to the thin script's preference for hugging the surface. When given room to roam, however, the actors deliver some sharp portrayals: Kwana Martinez's Beth, a lifelong innocent from whom the pearls depart and return; Christy Yael's exhausted Kyle, who needs a break from her mother's Alzheimer's; Jennifer Seifert's Abby, who gets an unmentionable wish; and Crystal Sershen, who creates seven distinct characters, from a snoot to a 300-pound gravedigger.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, February 10, 2008
- Sundays, 2pm & 7pm
- Thursdays, 8pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 8pm