Hearts Are Monsters a strange premiere
 

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posted Friday, November 5, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 45

Hearts Are Monsters a strange premiere
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Hearts Are Monsters
The Jewelbox
Through November 20


Macha Monkey's newest production is a world premiere by local playwright Kelleen Conway Blanchard. Blanchard's previous plays include Edith's Head and Small Town. She loves the offbeat. Hearts Are Monsters is about two jealous sisters, one of whom is a genius with an oddly huge head, and one of whom had some fame as a child star and now, at the ripe age of 16, is sexually ravenous.

Their mother is a drunkard who loves - like the mother in Glass Menagerie - to reminisce about her previous life and loves, all while staring at the television in a stupor. Also like Glass Menagerie, she holds on to the memory of her husband, with his portrait hanging on the wall. However, unlike the Glass Menagerie, it's quite likely that she was the one who killed him. At least, that's what Marcy, the smart daughter who loves mole rats, has to consider when her father appears as a ghost demanding vengeance, and the body turns up buried and decayed below the floor in the kitchen.

Bret Fetzer directs this crazy mashup of classic snatches from famous plays (recognize Hamlet?) and weird characters trying to find love. He gets solid performances from the five actors: Erin Stewart as Marcy, Erin Pike as sister Wendy, Karen Heaven as Mother, Joey Gilmore as boyfriend Jack to Wendy and crush to Marcy, and James Weidman as Jack's football coach, Coach Snell, who has been in love with Mother for many years.

Each actor dives headfirst into the role, over the top and down the rabbit hole of strangeness. While they are all fun to laugh at, the heart of the piece is that each of them is emotionally accessible and appealing, no matter how hard they try to be portrayed as unappealing.

Erin Stewart plays a great blend of clueless and innocent, all while being smarter than everyone around her. She is so desperate for love that you just want to snatch her away from her awful family and tell her, 'It gets better.' But it turns out she's in no danger of feeling suicidal by the end. Why? Who knows.

An ingeniously compact and workable set by David Gignac includes a mole rat cage hidden inside the television and set changes that take mere moments with painted flats. Outrageous costumes by Jennifer Hurlbert complete Blanchard's vision. Original songs by Rick Miller give Jack credibly awful but musically totally appropriate heartfelt homages to sing to Wendy and Marcy.

One can guess that the title refers to the fact that you can't really control who the heart loves, and therefore your heart could be a monster, making you do and feel things you would far much rather not feel or do. The heart is more monstrous than any of these misbegotten characters. For more information, go to www.machamonkey.org or www.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.



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