Henley's Crimes a compassionate act

June 10, 2004, midnight | By Anuja Shah | 15 years, 7 months ago

Beth Henley's Pulitzer prize-winning comedy Crimes of the Heart will be staged at the Sangha Performance Space on Friday at 5:30 p.m. to benefit ‘Bread for the City', a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding DC's underprivileged. Admission is pay-what-you-can.

Crimes of the Heart spans two days in the kitchen of the sisters MaGrath. The realistic fixed set, reminiscent of a 1960s-style kitchen, directs attention to the family dining table, center stage, around and at which all dialogue takes place. The lack of theatrical lighting does not detract at all from the drama; the indoor lighting adds to the level of realism, as does Lenny's opening the makeshift curtain as though it is a window dressing. Although the costumes and props bespeak the teen budget, the cast of mostly high-schoolers, including some Blazers, is not to be underestimated. Southern drawl and all, the gutsy youths have filled their characters consistently, unfazed by having taken on a difficult play (and likely a tougher audience).

An intimate portrait of Southern kinship, Crimes of the Heart celebrates sisterhood in all its endearing insanity. When youngest sister Babe (Zoe Cohen) shoots her husband in the stomach because she doesn't "like his looks," eldest Lenny (Ellie D'Eustachio) frantically sends for middle sister Meg (Lizzi Albert), who is determined to get to the bottom of Babe's story. Recognizing the importance of family, flaky cousin Chick (Nora Boedecker) stops by, infrequently and uninvited, to patronize each sister, while Meg's former flame Doc Porter (Sam Lahne) genuinely attempts to comfort the three. With the help of young lawyer Barnette Lloyd (Zach Eaton), whose fondness for Babe and "personal vendetta" against her husband ensure his commitment to the case, they are able to craft a solid defense, and the sisters rejoice. Forced by crisis to reunite, the sisters soon set aside personal problems in a devoted effort to rebuild their relationship. Charismatic and darkly hilarious, Crimes of the Heart is a testament to the resilience of family, proving the power love is no small thing.

Although critics may argue that setting a play in Hazelhurst, Mississippi,in 1974, alienates the characters, it is ultimately the soul of the play that audiences must relate to. "The play really transcends the place and time," explains director Katie Frank. "It's all about human nature; the craziness, the sadness, the [hilarity]. It's about emotions…I think everyone can relate to death and joy, to the values and the subjects presented." And, she reiterates, it's a good play for a better cause.

Bread for the City is a nonprofit organization working in the DC-metropolitan area to provide the city's underpriveleged and disadvantaged with food, clothing and medical and legal services. Bread for the City was founded in 1976 out of the same charitable compassion its representatives advocate today. Today, food from Bread for the City reaches an estimated 10,000 mouths, and recipients of many additional services total in the thousands.

Sangha is located at 7014 Westmoreland Avenue in Takoma Park, approximately four blocks from the Takoma Park Metro station. From the station, walk approximately half a mile east on Carroll Avenue, and take a right on
Westmoreland Avenue. Sangha is located next to the Takoma Underground.

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Anuja Shah. Anuja "Otto" Shah, a Junior in the CAP, -is thoroughly excited to be part of SCO, -enjoys the word "fiasco", -aspires to be monstrously cool, -remains prepared to settle for being vaguely nifty, and -probably owes you money, but has fled the country. More »

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