Eclipse Theatre Company presents WOMAN IN MIND, the first show in the 2013 season dedicated to the work of Playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn.
What happens when a woman gets hit in the head with a rake? Playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn takes us through two scenarios simultaneously. Ayckbourn creates two realities for his heroine Susan. Through the impressive duality of Sally Eames (Susan), the audience sees a woman torn between two worlds. A playful and free-spirited Eames frolics in the grass with her husband. Later, a sour and dejected Eames bickers in the gazebo with her other husband. Same woman, different lives. Eames is well-grounded in both of her realities: the pretty and the gritty.
Ayckbourn’s premise is disturbing. A woman is so disenchanted with her life that she creates a pretend one. Ayckbourn digs deep into Susan’s psyche to make her fantasy and reality collide in colorful mayhem. Director Steve Scott splits the talented cast into the everyday doldrums crew and the shiny happy people. An amusing Larry Baldacci (Bill) gets to straddle both sides as Eames’ confidant. In particular, Baldacci endears with his bumbling antics interacting with ‘the others.’ As everything is unraveling around her on different levels, Eames loses it with manic hysteria. The bizarro finale features all the elements that Susan’s unconscious is fixated on. The logic is fascinating, disconcerting and weird.
Scott unfolds all the action like a dream-like story. The pacing seems a little sluggish as characters stroll onto and off of the plush green backyard. I can’t blame them I want to sink my toes into Scenic Designer (and landscaper) Chris Corwin’s “Pleasantville” lawn and linger. Still, I think tightening up the turf wars will add to the overall enjoyment.
WOMAN IN MIND is thought-provoking. Eames, in particular, builds an empathetic connection. I want her fantasy to be her reality. Of course, I want that for a lot of people.
Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission
At Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport
Written by Sir Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Steve Scott
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2pm
Thru May 19th
Buy Tickets at www.eclipsetheatre.com
Production photo courtesy of Scott Cooper