Playwright: debbie tucker green
At: Greenhouse Arts Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: GreenhouseTheater.org; $42.50-$52.50. Runs through: April 29
We live in a world where the worst truths of the lives of near-strangers are forever orbiting our consciousness. These unfortunate realities can present themselves in public forums or in internet postings, but what gives them a commonality is the fact that, as witnesses, it is almost always difficult to come up with the right words to express our sympathies. The women in hangdebbie tucker green's 2015 emotional mystery-play, being given its u.S.premiere in a taut production by Remy Bumppoknow this feeling very well.
Brought into a brightly lit British office setting by two cautiously overeager white female officials, a young Black woman is treated to a series of niceties and rambling small talk. It is clear something is at stake, though. The visitor's hands tremble and she treats every kind suggestion with a mute blankness or a terse, uninterested reply. It eventually becomes clear that the women know each other from a previous encounter and that there is some sort of tragic circumstance that links the three together. But the concerned statements of the women in power do nothing to dim the anger of the distraught figure in their midst and eventually the nature of the crime committed against her and the brutal decision she is being forced to make is revealed.
While green's script unfolds with a sweet sense of surprise, the issues she deals with are clearly presented. She reasons, powerfully, that it is almost impossible for people to truly grasp another person's pain especially when circumstances of chance, race and class serve as constant dividers. Sometimes all that can be done is to support one another in unknowing, heartstruck silence.
Nicely, this production not only showcases powerful roles, on stage, for women, but most of the major behind the scenes craftspeople are women, as well. This energy gives the production a sense of common purpose and truthful energy. Keira Fromm directs with scalpel sharp reasoning while Linda Buchanan's scenic design gives the situation the appropriate sense of time and place. Meanwhile, Christine Pascual's accurate costume design and Christine A. Binder's precise lighting define the piece, as a whole.
As the traumatized mother at the heart of the story, Patrese D. McClain radiates with both fury and ironic posturing. As with the other performers, her English accent seems spot-on throughout the proceedings, as well. Eleni Pappageorge, meanwhile, brings a more lighthearted, even handed sense to the proceedings. As always, it is a joy to watch Annabel Armour, as Pappageorge's more seasoned, but truly tender colleague. A multiple Jeff Award winner, Armour allows all the conflict and jangled emotions of the circumstances here to register, fully, in her body and her face.