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Winter Hamptons Theater Review: Center Stage's "Crimes Of The Heart"

T.J. Clemente

Deyo Trowbridge as Barnette and Tina Realmuto as Babe. (Photo: Dane DuPuis)

The Southampton Cultural Center's Center Stage is now presenting Crimes of the Heart, a play by Beth Henly and directed by Joan M. Lyons. The production, which is running until Sunday, January 28, is the essence of what the Southampton Cultural Center brings to the East End theater community; quality programing, usually focusing on exhibiting the talents of local actors in a local venue. The applause that propelled from the audience of the show's initial Saturday night performance was one of total appreciation of the efforts of all involved. The three-act play had one 15-minute intermission after act one.

Set in Hazelhurst, Mississippi the 1970's, Crimes of the Heart won playwright Beth Henly a Pulitzer Prize. The play puts a bright light on many of the women's issues that are still in the forefront of our country today. The main issues being addressed in this play are: being held back by a commitment of responsibility; the desire to chase dreams; and being captured in a life that a bad marriage can bestow on one. The underbelly storyline of the play centers around a white married southern politician's wife (Babe) having an affair with a 15-year-old black youth and then the aftermath of Babe shooting her husband to protect her young lover. This is significant within this drama/comedy, especially since it takes place only a few years after the civil rights movement exploded across the country.

In every show, there is always one actor whose talent is the engine of the show. In this production of Crimes of the Heart, that somebody is Bonnie Grice who plays the complicated roll of Meg Magrath. Ms. Grice owns this part. She seems to have a deep understanding of so many of Beth Henly's lines for Meg Magraph - it is as if Ms. Grice had a hand in the writing of the part. Her voice was clear, every line audible, and every movement and mannerism natural as she navigated around complicated subject matter.

Josephine Wallace was rock solid as Lenny Magrath, Meg's sister. I personally have admired Ms. Wallace's talent as an actor in other Center Stage productions. She is consistently brilliant. Kristin Whiting as Chick Boyle brought a burst of comedic acting to her role. She received belly laughs and well deserved applause. Tina Marie Realmuto was endearing in her interpretation of the role of youngest sister, Babe Botrelle. She added a spark to the show. Mark Strecker was solid as Doc Porter and Deyo Trowbridge gave a wonderful performance as Barnette Lloyd, Babe's defense attorney.

Joan M. Lyons' direction had the actors smartly moving about the stage with perfect sight lines and in positions to deliver their lines so that all could hear and see facial expressions.

In the end, I believe this production of Crimes of the Heart is a success because the actors are able to provoke deep thoughts and conversation of the complicated social issues women still face today. They used their talents to remind us all so much remains to still be done.

Crimes of the Heart showtimes are: Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m.; Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $25 with student/group rates available.

Southampton Cultural Center is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. For more information, please call 631-287-4377 or visit www.scc-arts.org.

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