Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’




Shotgun Players who always presents challenging productions is currently presenting Madeline George’s thought-provoking “Precious Little” through September 16th with the tour de force of three Bay Area actresses. Yes there are only three actresses in the drama and two of them portray several characters including a gorilla. Yes I said a gorilla.  The play has a lot of issues in its 80 minute span including surrogate mother, lesbian parenting, abortion and a student-teacher sexual relation.   It covers a lot of ground but with inventive writing and superb acting it successfully accomplishes its mission.

“Precious Little” also examines whether and how language separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom. Brodie, (Zehah Berkman) a lesbian no nonsense linguistic professor, is trying to have a child of her own but encounters an ethical predicament when she discovers the fetus has a inherited defect.  Her grad student/girlfriend (Rami Margron) wants more from their association and a research subject’ daughter is giving the linguistic anguish. Brodie’s only consolation comes from a zoo’s “talking” ape (Nancy Carlin).

“Precious Little” also has a bits of a rather enticing ancient language that the dramatist has invented that bridges Slavic and Finno-Ugric elements.   This occurs when Brodie is interviewing Cleva an elderly mother played brilliantly by Nancy Carlin. Brodie’s interaction with ultrasound techs, the younger girlfriend and the gorilla paints a demanding portrait of a woman coping unsentimentally with the decision to parent.

Zehah Berkman gives an outstanding performance of a non-nonsense woman Brodie.  Nancy Carlin and Rami Margron play everyone one else. Nancy Carlin morphs herself into an ape with strong slowness.  We share in its steam of consciousness thoughts such as “I chew. I stretch. I look”. She is excellent as the elderly immigrant who is one of the last speakers of a disappearing Slavic language. Rami Margron brilliantly plays a colonnade of sharply well-defined individuals including Brodie’s younger girl friend, a child visiting the zoo and the cautious receptionist at the medical center.

Director Marissa Wolf keeps the scenes flowing smoothly.  Costumes by Valera Coble and lighting by Stephanie Muchner adds to the realisms of the fast pace drama.  Martin Flynn has devised an fascinatingly enigmatic set with minimal props.

<i>Precious Little</i> plays through September 16th at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave, Berkeley.  For tickets go to 510-841-6500 or on line at   There next production will be Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” opening on September 26 and running through October 28th


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