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St. Pete Times review: Woman in Mind

“Woman in Mind takes off like a rocket, propelled by Ayckbourn’s trademark obsessions with egoism, arrogance, pretension, loveless marriage, ungrateful children, middle-class misery and the casual cruelty of the vulnerable … This production, directed by David M. Jenkins, benefits from [Ami] Corley’s performance. She masterfully conveys the inner conflicts of Susan …” – St. Petersburg Times

So there is the longer version of the pullout quote. The part that makes us look really good. Now, we never muddle around with words or do any misleading editing of quotes. Pay attention, you’d be surprised who does dig on that. But of course that pullout quote isn’t the whole story …

Seems this reviewer didn’t enjoy the second act as much as the first, but maybe they were looking for it to be a different sort of play. If I may (of course I may, it’s my blog) – I’d like to explain something:

“… it stalls in the second act. Having launched a plot full of family friction and frustrated desire, Ayckbourn can’t seem to find a suitable destination for it. So the play plunges into Susan’s full-blown madness, which turns out to be far less cozy and entertaining than the fantasies that triggered it.”

I think this is precisely the point – it (the dynamics of the relationships between Susan and her true family) doesn’t go anywhere, even after great crisis is brought in (the injury and hallucinations, Rick’s arrival and subsequent news), and so – yes – she does plunge into full-blown madness (a trip she’s been on for a while, we just see the final 48 hours of it). And yes, it is far less cozy – and possibly less ‘entertaining’ depending on how you define the word. But it is the journey that Ayckbourn has sent us all on, and it’s a worthwhile one. Susan’s loss of her grip on reality, and as a result the loss of everyone she holds close to her – real and imagined – is the destination. There are certainly major developments in her fantasy life in the second act, which are in large part triggered by the crisis and inaction in her real life.

I think it’s one of the superior aspects of this script – we laugh at ourselves via these characters and situations, we judge, we sympathize – though not always wholly, we experience outright schadenfreude. It all comes to quite a boiling and rather absurd head before the laughs die away altogether and you see exactly what you’re left with.

I still think the second act is superior – technically and practically – than the first. Act I spends careful time establishing the relationships, the characters and setting all the pieces in place so that we can let them all collide in Act II.

On opening night, I came with my wife and three friends – none of whom knew anything about the play the were watching. Every one of them had a variation on the sentiment of “this is really funny, but I can smell a nasty turn coming in the second act.” Of course they did. We crave it in fact, don’t we? Even if we don’t like to admit it.

In any case, I’m glad to get reviewed at all. Not sure if anyone else noticed, but apart from Leilani’s See & Do pick in CreLo, we managed zilch in the way of pre-press. Again. The reviews become even more critical when there’s nothing else to go on. There’s nothing negative said about our production, just a slight on the structure/overall impact. I can live with that. It’s just three sentences, right?

As we’d say amongst ourselves – it’s not a bad review, but it’s also not very likely to put any asses in seats. Now we’re down to waiting on Mr. Leib. Will he kiss it and hold it over his head or enjoy a slow and studied vivisection of it? Place yer bets … I gave up on guessing long ago.

In other news …

  • Opening weekend patron feedback:

“Thank you so much … We thoroughly enjoyed the show. Congratulations on your success.” – Deborah Kobritz, via email

“Loved the show!!” – melissa, via MySpace

  • Friday night’s show (6/15) is also nearing sold-out status. Saturday is shortly behind it. As is pattern, Thu and Sun are looking the best if you plan on walking up to buy a ticket.

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2 thoughts on “St. Pete Times review: Woman in Mind

  1. “Honest Bill” certainly knows people who know people …

    We wish we could hold the show over, but likely by the time it’s safe to do it, it wouldn’t be enough time to get the word out on it.

    We do know this: If we can get our season tickets to the point that all opening weekend shows are 85-90% full just on season ticket holders, it would allow us to do a fourth weekend for basically every show.

    The financial impact of that fourth weekend is enormous! Since our artists are all working on a percentage, it means they all get paid loads more. In the case of a really successful show, like The Pillowman, even though it was a bit more expensive than a normal show it still broke even I believe during the second week of the run. That’s also when we added the fourth week. All tickets sold after that point effectively become “gravy.”

    Don’t let that talk fool you though, none of our guys are making a living wage yet. When we can do that, then I can start bragging.

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