Unfortunately, director Andrew Hamrick offers no clear vision for Marsha Norman's probably potent script. Yes, we quickly get the message that abused children grow up with broken souls. Aside from that, there is no shape to the piece, which quickly grows repetitive. Blocking is distracting; the lighting design fails to adequately illuminate the actors, despite a ceiling full of instruments; and at far too many points the evening appears underrehearsed, as line fumbles were epidemic and pacing was glaringly off on opening night.
Perhaps we should be grateful for the distractions that crop up: Throughout the play, we can hear noise from the café on the other side of the wall, which takes our attention away from the shrieking voices and the not one but two actors who made a running entrance and skidded on wet spots on the stage.
Two other actors play one woman recently out of incarceration. Jennifer Cetrone plays her as the grownup; Tracy Lane plays her as younger, perhaps a child, perhaps perpetually immature. It's almost impossible to recognize the same person in them, and once one does, it's difficult to tell their ages. Cetrone plays her as quiet and dulled by life; this does not make interesting theater. Lane plays her as a loud annoying brat; this does not make appealing theater.
Nor is the audience experience satisfactory. The box office for this show is located at the far end of a long hallway, next to the door into the house. As people pick up their tickets, they remain near the door. The crowd builds. Anticipation doesn't. Although the kind staff promised, at 7:45, to open the house "in a few minutes," the audience was left standing in the stifling hallway until 8:15. At 8:23, the curtain speech was started, asking the crowd to use Twitter and Facebook to help advertise the show. How about this for a starter Tweet: First do solid work, then people will recommend you.
Presented by FTGU Theatre at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre, 2106 Hyperion Ave., L.A.
Aug. 7–Sept. 20. Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.