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RVP Stages “Crimes of the Heart” Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama

RVP Stages Crimes of the Heart
Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama

 But for the fine acting of this cast, the script is more lackluster than blockbuster – Pulitzer Prize and New York Critics Circle Award for Playwright Elizabeth Becker (Beth) Henley and film adaptation, aside. Its “drama” can be claimed only because of the over-dramatic interactions and reactions of three sisters to events we do not see on stage.  The cast has to carry what the script doesn’t provide – true drama. The production is alternately described as a “tragicomedy” and “Southern Gothic Comedy”—in truth, it is somewhere in between all of those.

The story line takes place in a Mississippi country-town in 1974 depicting the tribulations of three sisters who come back home to heal old wounds, recover lost innocence, and attempt to go forward toward a brighter future.

Three sisters — left to right, Lenny (Jensen Power), Babe (Margaret Grace Hee) and Meg (Chandler Parrott-Thomas) — amp up their affection in “Crimes of the Heart.” Photo by Robin Jackson.

Director, Pat Nims, and Assistant Director, Pennell Chapin, brought out the best in this cast.  The cast worked hard with success to keep the attention of audience for this performance. The southern drawl employed by the cast brought authenticity to the southern roots of the story and color to the storyline. Margaret Grace Hee was outstanding as the ditsy Babe Botrelle (with lines like, “It’s important for a person to win a life-long vendetta.”) Chandler Parrott-Thomas was quite believable – with excellent voice projection — as the hard-drinking, smoking, loving Meg Magrath. Jensen Power was strong in her portrayal of Lenny, the most vulnerable of the sisters (who said, when her horse was struck by lightning, she cried so much she could “fill up a pig’s trough”), and Caitlin Strom-Martin was very good as Chick Boyle, the most grounded and stable of the sisters; however, her lines did not have strong projection to the ear of this audience-member in the first row straining to hear and clearly decipher what she was saying. Doc Porter (portrayed by Michael Harris) was very good as the sexy, young country husband and father, irresistibly drawn to Meg. Jeremy Judge was excellent in his portrayal of the country lawyer, Bernette Lloyd.


Only professionals could so imaginatively create such a detailed set as designed by Ron Krempetz and constructed by Michael Walraven, with property design by M:aureen Scheuenstuhl, and artistic touches by Scenic Artist Dyhanis. The lighting, as designed by Harrison Moye, was appropriately bright throughout. The Sound Design by Rick Banghart seemed difficult to adequately adjust/modulate without microphones strategically placed and/or mics worn by the actors.

Costume Design by Michael A. Berg was appropriate for the period, as were the nicely-done hair and wig designs, by Miles Jessen-Smith.

 By Elle Alexa Simon
with Flora Lynn Isaacson, Critic, San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle

 Be sure to see Crimes of the Heart before its final performance on August 11, 2019.  Performances are Thursdays, at 7:30PM; Fridays and Saturdays, at 8:00 PM; and Sunday Matinees at 2:30 PM

For Tickets: go online to or call 800/838-9555.  Tickets for School Groups, call 415/456-9555 extension 3.  All performances take place at The Barn, home of the Ross Valley Players, Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.

Coming up next at Ross Valley Playhouse, September 13-October 13, will be The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie and Directed by Adrian Elfenbaum.