Excellence Found in "Crimes of the Heart"
“Crimes of the Heart” by Beth Henley is currently being presented by the Oklahoma City Theatre Company at the CitySpace Theatre located in the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall. “Crimes of the Heart” is under the direction of Rachel Irick, Artistic Director of OKCTC and this production reveals her expertise.
Two sisters, Lenore and Margaret (called Lenny and Meg) must rally round the third sister and her tragic difficulty. Rebecca is the youngest sister, called Babe by the family. Her husband has been shot and she is presumed guilty as she admits to pulling the trigger. The eldest sister, Lenny, has remained single and stayed at home to care for the ailing grandfather who is in the hospital recovering from a series of strokes. Meg has been pursuing a singing career with little success and only returns as the result of Lenny’s frantic telegram. Babe is in limbo of course and will give no reason for her desperate action. This is quite a reunion for the three young women and it is certainly understandable that no one remembers Lenny’s birthday.
Cousin Chick is the other granddaughter who glories in the misfortunes of her cousins. Also part of the story is Doc, a former boyfriend of Meg’s who has remained a friend of the family. Barnett is the young lawyer retained to defend Babe as she has been charged with attempted murder for the shooting of her husband. The interaction with the six characters as they deal with the tragic issues of this very dysfunctional family is smooth and natural.
Rachel Irick does an exceptional job in staging “Crimes of the Heart” and her cast creates believably flawed and sympathetic characters. J. Collin Spring is Doc and his performance is controlled and accurately represents the common southern man with dignity. Barnett, the eager young lawyer determined to vindicate Babe is played by Kyle Reed, making his first onstage appearance with the Oklahoma City Theatre Company. His performance is a welcome addition. Peggy Free is also new to the OKCTC stage. Her performance as the very unsympathetic and shallow cousin Chick, is excellent as she lends credibility to a character that could easily be a caricature.
“Crimes of the Heart” is a tear jerker requiring a voluminous handkerchief from the men’s department as the little hanky we women usually carry won’t cut it. The cast members portraying the three sisters are stars of the show shining through our tears. Valerie Compton also makes her OKCTC debut with “Crimes of the Heart” and her performance is thoughtful, connected and colorful. Compton is a definite asset to the Oklahoma City theater community. Michele Fields is a superb Meg and captures the flawed character with a nice tongue-in-cheek attitude that complements the other characters beautifully. The third sister, Babe, is delightfully portrayed by Keila Lorenc familiar to the audience of Frankenstein as Mary Shelley. As Babe, Lorenc displays versatility and charm.
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