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Ambrosia

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An astonishingly talented trio of women, Christine Ashe, Lilli Birdsell, and Susan Dalian, play versions of their young selves (presumably, since they also wrote the piece) and their aged grandmothers -- in one case a great-grandmother -- in this 70-minute tribute, beautifully directed by Julie Ariola. Throughout, the women's transitions between the older and younger characters are wonderfully fluid and entirely credible, with minimal props.

The play takes its title from a ghastly concoction of canned fruit, walnuts, coconut, and processed whipped cream that actually passed for a salad circa 1950. The three older women, who seem to be in a nursing home, provide a similar agglomeration, on the surface having little in common. They are a 91-year-old Italian Catholic great-grandma (Ashe), who is "always suffering but never dying"; the 85-ish Midwestern "perfect grandma who popped up from a children's book" (Birdsell), who is always sewing, canning, and making rag rugs, whistling the whole while; and Nana, a black Virginia farm girl who ran away from a husband and child to find herself in the big city (Dalian, perhaps playing a bit too elderly for even a diabetic 73-year-old with a hardscrabble biography). Their emergent commonality -- and to a lesser extent that of their grandchildren -- provides the substance of "Ambrosia."

Alas, for most of the way, the six performances and the technical achievement of the actors' transformations transcend the inherent interest in these six particular women, although the ending will break your heart.

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