Regional Reviews: Boston
This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing
This Girl Laughs ... is having its New England premiere at Wellesley Repertory Theatre under the direction of Artistic Director Marta Rainer. She does a fine job of keeping the numerous threads of the three stories from becoming tangled and juggling the six members of the ensemble cast who serve in multiple roles. The three women who play the sisters are the only ones not required to morph into other characters. The challenge for J Taylor D'Andrea (Albienne), Meredith Gosselin (Beatrix) and Erin Eva Butcher (Carmen) is to evolve through the lifespan, from child to teenager to adult, as well as to convey their personal transformations based on the experiences they encounter.
Wellesley Rep stalwarts John Davin, Danny Bolton and Charlotte Peed anchor the roster of Narrators, joined by Addie Pates, Jenna Lea Scott and Sam Warton. They take turns taking the audience by the hand to follow the sisters in their travels, and alternately step into key roles as the stories play out. Bolton is the father who goes from light to dark as his once-happy family unravels. Davin plays the father later in life, but his best portrayal is that of a nasty, cigarette-smoking badger who holds a grudge against Carmen for eating his brother. Beatrix finds Peed's old woman enjoying her solitary existence as a lighthouse keeper, but convinces her to convert the beacon into a sailing vessel. Peed shows her delight as she signs on as first mate for the adventures of Beatrix.
D'Andrea, Gosselin and Butcher portray the girls as different as different can be, while also conveying how close they are as sisters, especially when abandoned in the woods. Although they are apart for 31 years, it is evident that the siblings are never far from each other's hearts and minds. Albienne finds her purpose by becoming a warrior who fights vikings and saves villagers, Beatrix slakes her thirst for adventure by crossing oceans and navigating her way back home, and Carmen establishes a home in the woods for people and animals who have nowhere to turn, eventually making a home and family for herself. However, like Dorothy, they are all drawn by the same powerful desire to return home to reunite with their father and their sisters.
Kruckemeyer shows us the world through the eyes of the sisters, first as children and later as adults. He draws them as smart, curious, adventuresome, brave and forgiving, and provides a strong endorsement of women as protagonists. Although This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing is a departure from the usual fare staged by Wellesley Rep, it gives Rainer and company the opportunity to field a cast and production crew that are both two-thirds women. Their performances are informed by their ability to relate to the joys and sorrows, challenges and victories, and the life journeys of Albienne, Beatrix and Carmen. The play may be framed as a fairy tale, but the first stories we hear are often the ones that impart the most influential messages.
This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing, through June 30, 2019, at Wellesley Repertory Theatre, Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Alumnae Hall, 106 Central Street, Wellesley MA. For information and tickets, call the box office at 781-283-2000 or visit www.wellesleyrepertorytheatre.org
Written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, Directed by Marta Rainer; Production Manager, David Towlun; Set Design, Janie E. Howland; Sound Design, George Cooke; Costume Design, Chelsea Kerl; Lighting Design, Bridget Doyle; Stage Manager, Lindsay Garofalo; Vocal Coach, Paul Michael Valley; Fight Director, Sarah Flanagan
Cast: Addie Pates, Danny Bolton, Erin Eva Butcher, John Davin, J Taylor D'Andrea, Meredith Gosselin, Charlotte Peed, Jenna Lea Scott, Sam Warton