Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Review: Crimes of the Heart holds brilliant performances


Augustana’s winter play Crimes of the Heart, by Beth Henley, successfully, and rather uniquely, shows the tender portrayal of three sisters who come together or the series of two days after having gone their separate ways.

The play was written in 1981, winning the Pulitzer Prize for best drama, and was later successfully turned into a Oscar-nominated film in 1986. 

While the movie is definitely a black-comedy, Augustana’s production, directed by Jennifer Popple, places a much heavier emphasis on the dramatic aspects of the show.  Some of the comedic aspects of the movie are missed, as the content of the show is very heavy with the comedic elements missing.  However, with their interpretation and adaptation, Popple and her cast are still very successful.

Much of that success lies on the trio of the three Magrath sisters: Babe, played by first-year Elise Campbell, Meg, played by junior Sarah Baker, and Lenny, played by sophomore Lauren Clapp. 

The strengths of the show definitely lie whenever all three sisters are on stage together.  Campbell, Baker, and Campbell all have chemistry and even look similar enough to pass as sisters.  A particularly strong scene was when all the three sisters decided to play cards and the excitement they held, only for their excitement to crash down when Meg, the prodigal sister, decides to leave.  The excitement and following devastation are a very realistic semblance of what it is like to have siblings that are close, but grow apart.

Tristan Odenkirk, a first-year who plays Doc, and Liam Baldwin, a junior who plays Barnette, also do very serviceable jobs. Odenkirk excels with the physicalities of his performance, between the limp his character has and the dance sequences, which is part of the stylized movement included by Popple.  Baldwin’s character has much of the exposition of the show, but he delivers it in a realistic and moving fashion.

With the non-realistic set and stylized movement incorporated in the show, Popple made a bold choice that, for the most part, paid off.  I was particularly a fan of the incorporated dances.  The set, built by Susan Holgersson, was very unique and impressive, but I do hope that Augustana takes advantage of their new stage soon and builds an expansive set for a show.

Crimes of the Heart runs Feb. 3-5 in the new Brunner Theatre.  Tickets are available in the Brunner Center or online. 

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Review: Crimes of the Heart holds brilliant performances