Albee’s Legacy Lives With A Strong Production Of His “Three Tall Women” At STLAS

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Amy Loui, Jan Meyer and Sophia Brown in Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women” at STLAS. Photo: Patrick Huber

Having just died 2 weeks ago at age 88, Edward Albee is probably our greatest American playwright (although there a few strong contenders of his generation) and the piece that St. Louis Actors’ Studio chose for this, their 10th season opener, is the closest he came to putting his life on stage- “Three Tall Women.”

I’ve only seen this play once before so the story did not immediately come to mind, but as this production unfolded, I remembered what a brilliant piece of theatre it is. Women A, B and C are meeting in Act I. A is a 91 year old woman, using a cane and experiencing a bit of forgetfulness, if not downright dementia. B is a middle aged caregiver and C is a young lawyer from the older lady’s long time personal firm. As the act unfolds, we learn a lot about the older woman and a bit about the mind set of the other two.

Jan Meyer is strong willed as the older woman and, even when she forgets things like the passing of the lawyer who usually handles her affairs or details about her late husband, she is rock solid in her convictions and what she needs and wants. The caregiver, played with an easy manner- as if she’s been with the older woman for some time- by Amy Loui, is superb in her subtle ways of avoiding the woman’s wrath and what she thinks she needs and wants. Finally, the young lawyer is given a brilliant, stoic performance by newcomer to our local theatre scene, Sophia Brown. Her sarcastic and ramrod demeanor is in strong contrast to the character she portrays in the final act.

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Sophia Brown, Jan Meyer and Amy Loui in “Three Tall Women” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: Patrick Huber

In that second act, all three women appear in formal wear and combine to create the persona of one woman at three stages in her life. Woman A has suffered a stroke at the end of the first act and now Ms. Brown plays her at age 25, Amy Loui at age 52 and Jan Meyer as the same age we saw her in the first act but without the cane and without the affect of aging on her physical and mental capacities. Finally, Michael B. Perkins appears briefly as a non-speaking catalyst to the cavalcade of her life as her son who, of course, does not react to what are obviously memories of the lady’s life as she lay dying.

The woman represents Albee’s mother and the bedside visitor is Mr. Albee himself. His was obviously not a happy life and, although not totally mean-spirited, “Three Tall Women” is indeed autobiographical. Director Wayne Salomon has crafted an exquisite portrait of the artist- playwright Albee- with a very haunting portrayal by three very talented women. This play mesmerizes as it crackles with dry wit and a poignant finale that explores the various stages of life for all of us.

Patrick Huber’s striking set design fits the mood of the play perfectly and is enhanced by his lighting design as well. The Carla Landis Evans costumes fit the portrayal of the three ladies in both acts quite well with an almost bizarre touch added by the formal wear.

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Sophia Brown, Jan Meyer, Michael B. Perkins and Amy Loui in Albee’s “Three Tall Woman” at STLAS. Photo: Patrick Huber

STLAS has been offering quality theatre going into this tenth season and it looks like we’ve got a great ten years (and more) ahead of us. For a disturbing and provocative evening of theatre, don’t miss “Three Tall Woman” by the master, Edward Albee at St. Louis Actor’s Studio. It runs through October 9th at The Gaslight Theatre.

 

 

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