Regional Reviews: St. Louis
Also see Richard's review of Blue/Orange
Ultimately, the pair stands against the chaos of erasure and abandonment and humiliation in Jennifer Haley's 2010 play, to find strength in spite of two lifetimes' worth of damage. Sarah Lynn Holt directs, and every moment is handled beautifully between Jodi Stockton as the older woman, Alida, and Julie Amuedo as Beth. Ms. Amuedo plays a double role (or triple, if you count Hansel and Gretel's silent witch in the forest), though it's often mysterious. Mainly, counting the long-lost mother, it's a tale of three damaged women by the time we delve into Alida's childhood.
The older woman is a writer, and reclusive, and distrustful of Beth when she shows up as a visiting nurse from a memory care center. And we are trained to cringe every time there seems to be a moment of tenderness, in fear that Alida's rising terror and distrust will crush the relationship all over again. That pain becomes strangely beautiful, if you ever had to contemplate a caretaker role. Everything becomes a tug-of-war in the battle against dementia, and Beth is the target of many unfounded accusations in Alida's "sundowning." Periodically, the story takes a dream-like twist into a dark foreston a path to that witch's house in the woods, where she turns to see a trail of breadcrumbs has suddenly vanished.
Beth is increasingly battered by the older woman's outbursts. And in the more and more frequent flashbacks, Alita's mother seeks some stability for her little girl through a series of unstable relationships. Ms. Amuedo displays wonderful dramatic range in the mother's role, in a bemused tale that goes fantastically, painfully, beautifully awry. Turns out, some old bedtime stories can accommodate an awful lot of modern pain and sorrow.
Breadcrumbs runs through October 24, 2021, at the .Zack Theatre, 3224 Locust (a block west of Compton, at Leonard Ave.), St. Louis MO. For more information visit www.r-stheatrics.org.