All the actors — among them Boston-based Daniel Berger-Jones as the uncomfortable lawyer — are emotionally and viscerally convincing, but to what end? Whitley means us to regard Charlotte as a gutsy survivor, albeit one with shallow values bred of having had only her looks to help her make her way in a man’s world. Her desperate need for the ill-gotten clothes and bling mask a desperate, guilt-induced need to reinvent herself. But the disconnect from painful reality that keeps Charlotte primping while her son lies on a truck bed with his femur hanging out is too extreme. The lively Naughton plays the character as warm, sly, and sexy. Still, the mantra that “there’s nothing wrong with looking good before you go out” comes off as more pathologically vain than gallant.
Thomas Kee imbues Randy with a Jack Nicholsonian mix of explosiveness and scathing wit, and David Rosenblatt is an expressive David, especially when mute. And Whitley does a neat job of fitting a few crucial flashbacks into the action. But Goatwoman can’t decide whether it’s a Southern Gothic black comedy à la Crimes of the Heart or a page torn from a tabloid. As for the significance of the goats, I’m stymied — unless it’s that the gastronomically intrepid animals have a reputation for swallowing anything. Aha! They’re the perfect audience for this play.
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