If there’s one thing my Southern Drama class taught me in college, it’s that every play written within the genre is a tragedy. But what if it’s funny and heartfelt? And what if the characters are laughing at the end with icing on their faces? Is it still a tragedy? Clarksville Little Theater is producing Crimes of the Heart this month, and they have willingly stepped up to the challenge of producing a play with dark dramatic moments and laugh-out-loud bits interspersed throughout.
The play centers on the McGrath family, a trio of sisters who have seen more than their fair share of hardships. Whether it is attempted murder, suicide, infidelity or crushed dreams of stardom, the three sisters share a bond that is unbreakable despite trying times. Cathy Butler-Weathersby plays the oldest sister, Lenny. The caretaker for the ailing grandfather and coming to terms with her thirties, Butler-Weathersby shined in the play’s comedic moments. She was strongest in lighter scenes as when she playfully tries to stick a candle in a cookie or when she angrily throws chocolates at her sister Meg.
Lenny has two sisters, Meg and Babe, played by Heidi C Platt and Rachel Hatcher, respectfully, each touched by their own bit of tragedy and scandal. With Platt, there was a full grasp on Meg’s brash and wild personality, but I would have liked to have seen the performer focus on her fall from glory as a rising star in Hollywood. Although she is very entertaining to watch while she zips around the room in her colorful outfits fetching cokes and asking for bourbon, there was a want for depth as she struggles with the fact that her dreams and hopes of becoming a star might not ever be conquered. Hatcher’s portrayal of Babe, on the other hand, required maturity. Babe is a senator’s wife swept up in a controversy of both adultery and racism. Hatcher did her best to resemble a woman in the midst of such hardship, even though her portrayal of such struggles carried less weight in heavier scenes. When paired with Brandon Saylor as Barnette Lloyd, a lawyer and admirer, scenes between this potentially flirtatious couple fell short of any kind of flattery. Saylor, on the other hand, provided a strong support for the production as a whole.
As this is a play about bonds between family members, the production is at its best during scenes in which all MaGraths are on stage, with the addition of Lauren Van Fossen as Chick. Van Fossen definitely deserves kudos as the busybody cousin. Though she is in fewer scenes than the other ladies on stage, she provides energy as high as the notes she sings offstage before her entrances. The chemistry between these women provides sweetness to a play where conflicts are definitely harsh and hard to swallow.
Tim & Dair Mathistad
Katie & Chris Haulter
Kathy Todd Chaney
Angie Reed Garner