We gave it an A-
On the surface, Crimes of the Heart couldn’t seem simpler: six characters, one set, Southern accents all around. But Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning tragicomedy, centering on three sisters (hello, Anton Chekhov!) and one attempted murder, plumbs greater depths. Kathleen Turner, by all accounts, understands that. The Oscar nominee-turned-stage stalwart chose Crimes for her directorial debut, and her intimate production at Massachusetts’ Williamstown Theatre Festival unearths every nuance of this deceptively complex drama.
Her touch is practically imperceptible — the sign of any well-directed show. And she chose a top-drawer cast to execute her vision: Jennifer Dundas (Desperate Housewives) makes spinster sister Lenny more than an uptight caricature, her face and shoulders telegraphing frustration and exhaustion at every turn; Sarah Paulson (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) finds the protectiveness beneath Meg’s playfulness — she may be a drinker, a liar, and a heartbreaker, but she’ll throw everything over for her siblings; and the always exceptional Lily Rabe gives Babe the requisite wide-eyed innocence along with a surprising dose of darkness. As their cousin Chick, Kali Rocha (Grey’s Anatomy) takes haughty to hilarious new heights (and does a priceless bit with a pair of pantyhose). And as the two men who cross the Magraths’ foyer, Meg’s ex Doc and Babe’s lawyer Barnette, Patch Darragh and Chandler Williams turn in understated, generous performances.
It’s only been six years since New York last saw a Crimes revival, so transferring this production to an Off Broadway house is probably wishful thinking. But perhaps we can persuade Turner to pick up the directorial reins on another fine work from a female playwright. (Tickets: 413-597-3400 or wtfestival.org) A-