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Volume 90, Issue 81
Tuesday, February 18, 1997
Taking life seriously at any age or size
Gazette file photo
SUCK IN THAT GUT. (l-r) Torri Higginson, Patricia Hamilton and Maggie Huculak congregate around a very large Victorian bed in The Grand Theatre's play, Three Tall Women.
Three Tall Women
Directed by Joseph Ziegler
Starring Patricia Hamilton, Maggie Huculak and Torri Higginson
At Grand Theatre, today March 1
What would you ask if you could meet yourself in 30 years? Sixty years?
This is the question Edward Albee poses in his 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Three Tall Women. Directed by Joseph Ziegler, Three Tall Women focuses on three women gradually coming to terms with the past, present and future. The women are never named, just identified in the script as A, B, and C. The play is a series of soliloquies giving the audience hints into the characters' minds and hearts. The play is separated into two acts, though the audience does not get the gist of the connection between the women until the second.
The first act begins with all three characters on stage. There is a confused, older woman, a middle-aged caregiver to the older woman and a young lawyer from the law firm that handles the older woman's affairs. Each woman wears a dress fitting to the time period from whence they came. The eldest, played by Patricia Hamilton (The Road to Avonlea), is 92. She is self-centred, senile and somewhat of a bigot. However, the audience cannot help but find her delightful. Her clever stories are a joy to listen to and Hamilton does a wonderful job capturing the wisdom mixed with confusion of the old woman.
The middle-aged women (Maggie Huculak) is 56. Her character is bitter and condescending towards both women, however, Albee again created a woman the audience cannot help but like. The youngest (Torri Higginson) is 26. She displays the attitudes that a younger person may possess towards the others: lack of patience, an I-know-everything point of view and an interest in the sensitivity of Hamilton's heartwarming stories. The banter between all three is witty and, at times, outright hilarious. The audience is thrown from emotion to emotion, from laughter to tears through each and every moment of the play.
The second act starts again with all three women on stage, but while the delightful rapport begins, the audience finally receives confirmation on what they have thought all along. These are not three separate women but merely a succession of selves throughout various periods of life. The youngest is determined to never be like the others, spurred by a stroke of the eldest at the end of Act I. This refusal to accept the future is what begins the soliloquies of the ups and downs of each moment in life.
The set is decadent and Victorian. The massive four-poster bed takes up most of the scene and the gilded furniture alludes to the wealth of the old woman. However, as the audience learns, money cannot buy happiness. The lack of personal memorabilia hints to the lack of true love in the 'woman's' life, thus underlying the major themes of the play.
Three Tall Women examines the life of one woman in a delightful, unconventional manner. All the actors capture the essence of their roles and the audience falls in love with each for their high points and flaws. If the play has a moral, it is that we should not take any moment of life for granted we should cherish every memory and situation. Sometimes we need to be reminded of this and Three Tall Women is a wonderful way to be told.
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