A review of Beth Henley’s 1981 play, now on stage at Village Theatre, about dysfunctional sisters and their “man troubles.”

Share story

Beth Henley’s 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Crimes of the Heart,” a favorite among regional theaters for years, has seen a couple of revivals on Broadway and was even a movie (Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek starred in the 1986 film). Obviously it’s got enormous appeal … just not for me.

“Crimes” takes us back to the mid-1970s. The locale is the Deep South town of Hazlehurst, Miss., where three sisters who grew up in a dysfunctional family have carried that dysfunction into their troubled adult lives. Directed at Village Theatre by Kathryn Van Meter, it maintains all the folksiness and captures all the humor of the script. But be aware, the script portrays a time when Southern women were depicted as lovable, childish incompetents with shrill voices.

The oldest sister, Lenny, played with a heart-rending neediness by Rhonda J. Soikowski, is celebrating her 30th birthday, alone and depressed, when her beautiful and vivacious sister Meg (Brenda Joyner) breezes in, having failed to achieve the stardom she expected in California but willing to lie about her success. Soon Babe, the youngest, arrives, out on bail for having shot her husband. Sydney Andrews gives Babe all the emotional immaturity the script demands, complete with cloying dimwittedness.

THEATER REVIEW

‘Crimes of the Heart’

By Beth Henley. Through Feb. 28 at Village Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah, $36-$68 (425-392-2202 or villagetheatre.org), and March 4-27 at Everett Performing Arts Center, $32-$64.

The action takes place in Grand­daddy’s kitchen, a set well-designed by Andrea Bryn Bush. It’s where these Southern belles vacillate between consoling and fighting, but are always reinforcing their strong family ties. Here the lemonade is made, the sisters’ “man” problems (either longing for them or unable to get along with them) are revealed and their sad lives play out.

It’s in that kitchen, too, where their obnoxious cousin Chick makes their lives even more miserable. Angela DiMarco plays Chick as perfectly self-satisfied and overbearing.

This is a good production of a play that probably needs to be retired. Given my choice of three sisters, I’ll take the Chekhov siblings any day.