As the men in these women's lives, Howard and Packard also pose an excellent contrast. In Howard's quietly stellar performance, the pathos of William's rumpled dignity is subtle, funny, and softly heart-breaking — watch him meekly close his mouth and look down as his wife laughs too hard with Jack; listen for the so modest yet so wrenching desire in his voice as he tells his wife, "You have a nice way of pouring a drink." Packard's strapping good looks and forceful gaze give his Jack a visceral sexuality that Macon sure isn't getting from William, and his Jack insults Bess with a chillingly matter-of-fact bluntness. I wanted, though, more of a sense of Jack's latent menace, the viciousness and violence waiting just beneath the lout's half-assed passes at civility.

Over the course of these characters' lives, Henley's bracing and entertaining script raises many of the big ideas of the conversation about the American character — wilderness and civilization, identity and the Other (Native Americans play interestingly into several twists in the plot), the myth of limitlessness — and its turns are rife with interesting ironies. But Henley's synthesis of them is elusive. What the turns add up to thematically — what they say about America's legendarily abundant soul — remains unsettled territory. ^

ABUNDANCE | By Beth Henley | Directed by Dana Packard | Produced by The Originals, At the Saco River Grange Hall, In Bar Mills | Through May 5 | 207.929.5412

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  Topics: Theater , Theater, Theatre, Beth Henley,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   PREPARE FOR THE FALL  |  September 18, 2014
    The season of theater at USM, Good Theater, Mad Horse, Portland Stage Company, and many more.
  •   TAKING CENTER STAGE  |  September 03, 2014
    “I’ve always loved hidden treasures,” says Michael Levine, founding artistic director of Acorn Productions, as he climbs the stairs to the third-floor ballroom of Mechanics Hall, a gem of a historic space concealed in plain sight right on Congress Street.
  •   BARN FULL OF WONDER  |  August 31, 2014
    Although summer is winding down, there’s still time for this summery, feel-good theatrical throwback to simpler times.
  •   BEREAVE IT OR NOT  |  August 22, 2014
    A dramedy about death, lust, and love by Portland actress and playwright Megan E. Tripaldi.
  •   WELCOME OBSCENITY  |  August 22, 2014
    When dancers or denizens at these close tables rustle, giggle, or whisper something titillating, it sounds like the prurience is coming from someone in our own party.

 See all articles by: MEGAN GRUMBLING