Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Taste of Things to Come @ The York Theater Company

A Taste of Things to Come has enjoyed its first New York debut at The York Theatre Company at St. Peter’s. Taste is a welcome adventure through time—exploring the dichotomy of a woman’s life in the 1950’s vs. the 1960’s. The book, music and lyrics by Debra Barsha and Hollye Levin brought the pervasive experiences of women; friendship, desire, marriage, societal pressures, oppression and more—to life.

Director/choreographer Lorin Latarro utilized Steven C. Kemp’s fully stocked kitchen with moving blocks of counters mirroring the style of their respective decades. In Act I we are greeted with the 1957 kitchen, complete with a window/computer screen that accompanied the cast with television clips from the 50’s and more.

In Act II, the scene opens up to reveal the all-women band behind the counters (Gillian Berkowitz/Piano and Conductor, Ann Klein/Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Barbara Merjan/Drums and Percussion, Sue Williams/Upright and Electric Bass), a living room complete with a shag rug and other iconic 60’s pieces. Lighting Design by Nathan W. Scheuer and Costume Design by Dana Burkart was notable throughout the performance.

The play explores the lives of four women, Joan Smith, Agnes Crookshank, Dottie O’Farrell, and Connie Olsen. Each one represents different personas of the time periods. While Act I was quite whitewashed, Act II hit home with a touching exploration of the issues of women, race and status; creating a much deeper connection to the heart of the audience.

Joan Smith (Paige Faure) is the ring-leader—the organizer of the Winnetka women. Highly intelligent but limited as a woman—Faure does not struggle to personify her character’s growth into the age of feminism. It is Faure that is the glue of the performance.

One of Joan’s best friends (just don’t tell the others) is Connie Olsen (Autumn
Hurlber). Connie is blonde haired and blue eyed with the “perfect” marriage. Faced with the ultimate form of “limbo,” Hurlber explores interracial issues in the second act. Her connection with her character was as powerful as her chemistry with the cast.

Agnes Crookshank (Janet Dacal) is the forever-single woman of the group. Refusing to accept the overall zeitgeist of the 1950’s, Crookshank pushes all of the envelopes she encounters and Dacal encompasses the early dents in the glass ceiling in the form of defiance. This blossoms into success in finding her place in the world outside of Illinois and Dacal more than just “passes” in her role.

Dottie O’Farrell is the personification of feminine zeitgeist. A suburban mother of four (or was it six?), Allison Guinn hilariously pulls the proud mother almost left behind in the 1960’s to the forefront of the play. As an audience, we are reminded that motherhood is just as powerful as any other life path; and that the sexual revolution did wonders for everyone. Guinn was perfect for the role.

A Taste of Things to Come hit almost every major social and political event for women of 50’s and 60’s—from “Dear Abby” to the pill. It was an incredible journey that I was charmed to be a part of. Debra Barsha and Hollye Levin created a play that is not only reflective but inclusive.

Review By: Alex Lipari
Photos By: Carol Rosegg

No comments:

Post a Comment