Saturday, November 27, 2010

Theater notes. Albee.

I'd seen Three Tall Women before, at Intiman, fifteen years ago. The same year as Pinter's Betrayal, in fact. I was fifteen. What did I know about being 26, or 52, or 91? Of falling in love, being married, coping with an unfaithful husband and a son I couldn't understand? Of growing old and dying? Nothing. And now I'm 30 years old, past 26, only a little closer to all of these things. I heard Seattle Repertory Theatre was performing Three Tall Women. I saw the women would be played by Megan Cole, Suzanne Bouchard, and Alexandra Tavares, all of whom I am familiar with, especially Suzanne Bouchard, whom I have loved for nearly twenty years. I had to be there.

It is everything I remember - much of the dialogue has stayed with me for fifteen years, which is a testament to Albee's brilliant writing - and yet more. More gentleness, more anger, more humor. This theatre is smaller, more intimate; sitting in the fourth row I can see the actors' faces clearly. I know them so well, Megan Cole after her recent part in one of the Pinter Fortnightly readings, Madagascar. Suzanne Bouchard, from dozens of performances in the 18 years I have been experiencing theater in Seattle, Alexandra Tavares from several plays over the past four years. I know their voices, the way they hold their heads up high, the way they move across a stage. This is what keeps me coming back, again and again, beyond the playwrights and their works. The actors are a part of what I love most about theater, the familiar faces shifting and changing from character to character.

In one of the first plays I remember seeing at ACT in 1992, Suzanne Bouchard exploded onstage in The Revenger's Comedies, as the unstable, seductive Karen Knightly. She continued to slink through a variety of femme fatale roles (often leaving a befuddled and slightly terrified R. Hamilton Wright in her wake), but now, more than ever, she is at the top of her game. There is tenderness, and a quietly intense fury, seen in the Pinter readings and performances last year and earlier this year, and as 'B' in Three Tall Women. The mark of a great artist is when they never stop evolving, never stop surprising you. We have a lot of these artists here in Seattle. We are lucky to have them.

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