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Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Memorable ‘Crimes of the Heart’

Theater Review

Feb. 10, 2010
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The Waukesha Civic Theatre explores some rather dark ground with its production of Beth Henley’s tragicomedy Crimes of the Heart.

Donna Daniels plays Lenny Magrath, the eldest of three sisters, a single woman who has spent her life caring for her grandfather. Daniels is endearingly meek in the role of a woman who has lived for others. As the play opens she is preparing to welcome home her two sisters. Ruth Arnell is captivating as the middle sister, Meg, a shrewd, tough woman whose failed singing career in California has left her life in limbo. Lenny and Meg meet at a rough point in the life of youngest sister Babe (Jenny Kosek). Having just been released on bail, Babe will soon stand trial for shooting her husband in the stomach. Making matters worse, her husband is the best lawyer in town and she’s reluctant to speak about the crime, saying only that she shot him because she “didn’t like his looks.” Kosek is charming in the role, but not until the character begins to show a degree of charm. By that time, a rhythm has built between Kosek, Arnell and Daniels. They may not look like sisters, but the authentic dialogue and intimate rapport between the three actresses serve the production well.

The events of the play move quickly. Somewhere near the end of it all, Kosek lifelessly walks across the stage dragging a light fixture behind her. She regards the oven… It’s a brilliant, dark moment that’s also profoundly funny. Director Mark Neufang has delivered a memorable show to the stage in Waukesha.

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Crimes of the Heart runs through Feb. 21.


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