Telling Lives - continues one more weekend at Riverwalk's Black Box this weekend.
It’s always exciting to present a play which has not been seen before in Lansing, and so the Black Box production of Telling Lives by Ohio playwright Faye Sholiton was indeed memorable.
Apparently drawn from Ms. Sholiton’s own life experience – as evidenced by the old home movies we’re treated to periodically – Lives presents the palpable drama which ensues when Grandma Ruth (Eve Davidson) decides to write her autobiography, much to the consternation of her working-journalist daughter Geri (Amy Rickett).
Geri nevertheless offers to review/edit Ruth’s manuscript, in the process emphasizing that many meaningful details are not in the book, but should be – except that Ruth doesn’t want that kind of book. (Compounding the tension is the fact that the divorced Geri is now back at home in Cleveland with the widowed Ruth.)
Then we find out that Ruth’s typist is in fact her 20-ish granddaughter Rachel (Michelle Lerma), not quite back at home after a stint as a playwright in Chicago. And indeed, it seems that Rachel’s drawn-from-life play offended Geri, who has not quite forgiven her daughter for using her as a character. (The implied message might be that if three generations of women are writers, they should write about something other than their relatives.)
From working on Ruth’s book, Rachel’s dramatic imagination has drawn her to the wrong conclusion about the Big Family Secret – which Ruth ultimately reveals in all its painful detail.
As Ruth, Eve Davidson is the focus of attention throughout, evincing self-confidence in herself and her life, albeit with a few regrets along the way. Amy Rickett brings an appropriately world-weary quality to Geri, always working under deadline with perhaps not enough time for her own family. And Michelle Lerma conveys the youthful idealism of Rachel, with echoes of Ruth in her self-confidence, Geri in her writing, but without the considered wisdom that only age can bring.
Director Jeff Magnuson makes clever use of the space-limited Black Box stage, conjuring up a newspaper office here, a museum visit there, all against the homey setting which is the heart of the play. (Kudos to the running crew for their seamless set changes.)
Ms. Sholiton clearly has a talent for sharp dialogue to create her characters and the three women in Telling Lives graced us with the talent to bring them to life.
8 pm Fri/Sat; 2pm Sun $12/$10 at the door; general seating. Reservations insure admission in case of a sellout (80 seats)