Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Susan and God
Also probably her best known play, Susan and God starred Gertrude Lawrence Broadway in 1937 and was made into a movie starring Joan Crawford and Fredric March in 1940. This popular film from MGM was directed by George Cukor with a screenplay by Anita Loos. Indeed, Rachel Crothers was a popular playwright and screenwriter in the 1930s and 1940s, though her work is rarely done today. Her movies were often dubbed "women's pictures."
Crothers' plays deal with contemporary social themes and moral problems affecting women and often include an element of comedy or parody. In the fast-changing world of social change, Crothers said, "If you want to see the sign of the times, watch women. Their evolution is the most important thing in modern life."
Susan and God tells the story of a wealthy and spoiled woman who finds meaning for her aimless life in an evangelical movement and attempts to convert her wealthy friends. The character of Susan is satirical yet ultimately sympathetic. Director Lauren Dusek Albonico and her excellent cast have captured the spirit of the play.
Ms. Albonico keeps the pace lively and the actors bring a sense of joy to their roles. All the cast members deliver fine performances, but the central family of Susan, Barrie and Blossom are pivotal. Stephanie Grilo has her work cut out for her; Susan's emotions change abruptly. Ms. Grilo captures her mercurial personality well, yet she lacks tenderness and compassion with Susan's daughter and husband later in the play.
Steven Armijo as Barrie, her husband, manages to convince us that he is a nice guy and also delivers a pretty believable drunk scene. Their daughter Blossom is played by young actress Amy Georges who brings just the right touch to an ugly duckling tween transitioning to a juvenile swan. Her stage presence is exemplary, and she seems destined for a career in the theatre.
All of the technical elements of the production are well executed. Costumes, although not strictly speaking "period," are attractive and serviceable. Excellent recorded period music is used for brisk set changes. The play calls for two interior room sets and the clever design allows for two different living rooms as needed. It is a handsome production and a great opportunity to see a drawing room comedy done well.
Vortex will continue the Drama Queens series with eight other plays drawn from four centuries of women playwrights of the American theatre, including well known plays and contemporary and cutting-edge pieces.
Susan and God runs through February 2, 2020, at the Vortex Theatre, 2900 Carlisle Blvd. NE, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Friday and Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday 2:00 pm. General Admission $24. For reservations and information, call 505-247-8600 or visit www.vortexabq.org.
Directed by Lauren Dusek Albonico. The Cast: Bridget S. Dunne, Tait Alexander, DeAnna Gonzales, Yannig Morin, Abigail Ropp, Nicholas Johnson, Varun Kashyap, Stephanie Grilo, Steven Armio and Amy Georges.