Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of The Hard Problem
The personal is political, as the expression goes, and Loomer focuses on how two people can go through an experience together and perceive it differently. What is "the truth"? To Norma McCorvey (Sara Bruner), it's about losing custody of one child, giving up another for adoption, and now seeking an abortion in late 1960s Texas. For Sarah Weddington (Sarah Jane Agnew), barely out of law school, it's joining a genteel consciousness-raising group and stumbling into a case that took her before the Supreme Court at age 26.
Director Bill Rauch, who premiered this production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with many of the same cast members, brings a fluidity to the staging that allows time to move unobtrusively and locations to change almost instantaneously. A versatile 10-member ensemble plays all the roles supporting the two powerful leads.
The most interesting part of the drama is how well-meaning people can overlook the most important things or simply not see them. McCorvey is a hard-living bartender who drinks too much, takes drugs, shoplifts if she doesn't have enough money to pay for foodand middle-class Weddington has sympathy for her, but also pegs her as a redneck. When Weddington goes to Washington to address the Supreme Court, she never thinks of taking McCorvey along, even though the case wouldn't exist without her.
Bruner brings an almost feral energy to McCorvey, an excessive personality driven to find self-justification at one extreme or the other. Weddington keeps her passions restrained, but Agnew allows the audience to see beneath the façade. Their interactions are electric.
Rachel Hauck has designed a deceptively simple set that allows a few platforms and some furniture to represent a series of locales, anchored by Wendall K. Harrington's projected backdrops and Jane Cox's quietly effective lighting. Raquel Barreto's costumes bring the era to life, from leisure suits with patch pockets to Weddington's green-trimmed lavender suit.