Also see Tracy's review of An American Daughter
MetroStage is currently presenting the East Coast premiere of Bea’s Niece. Written by Canadian playwright David Gow, Bea’s Niece is a psychological drama that takes the viewer into the dark recesses of one woman’s troubled mind.
The play concentrates on Anne Hirsch, a celebrated novelist who has lost her husband to cancer. Through a series of events she lands in a psychiatric hospital. During Anne’s stay, a small cast of characters parade in and out of her real and imaginary existence. These visitors include her doctor, her late husband and her outrageous Aunt Bea.
The concept of this play is an interesting one. It views the main character from many angles and has one guessing about the central character’s true reality. Unfortunately, this is not a tightly written play. There are several loose ends and a number of scenes would benefit from some cutting. The direction by Jessica Kubzansky is a bit lacking as well. Areas that should have a great impact seem to fizzle out.
Despite its problems, Bea’s Niece does make a good effort. The set and lighting designs by Jos. B. Musemeci and Jeremy Pivnick, respectively, set the mood perfectly. Additionally, the sound design by John Zalewski is simply haunting.
The cast is an excellent group of actors. They are much better than the material and it shows. Helen Hedman provides some stirring moments as the disturbed Anne. As her late husband, Tom Kearney is immensely likable and delivers a very strong performance. Michelle Shupe plays the determined Dr. Otis and is steadfast in her portrayal. However, the truly delightful moments in this show belong to Susan Ross as the bawdy, straight-talking Aunt Bea.
The exceptional acting in this piece is not enough to make the play work. Bea’s Niece never really comes together in the end, although the effort is admirable. Bea’s Niece runs at MetroStage through June 8th.
Anne Hirsch: Helen Hedman