Review by Danny Gaisin
It was a Tony® garnerer and an Oscar® – winning movie sixty years ago and is still a challenge for directors & cast as well as audiences. This heavy psychological drama about dreams that went askew and lives that became banal is as probable today as it was then. In actuality; given the economic uncertainties of the current period, perhaps even more possible. Photo courtesy of David Cooper.
A disillusioned married couple share the home but not their individually depressed lives. Add in the catalyst –an attractive college girl boarder. Her local school paramour, plus a committed boyfriend back home contribute to the tension.
Jackie Maxwell wisely directs her characters to portray Inge’s creation; not the Booth & Lancaster stars who originated the roles. The alcoholic husband, celebrating a year of A.A. success is forcefully yet understatedly played by Ric Reid. Until his fall off-the-wagon in Act II, his patience and paternalism towards both his wife & the young lady is almost saint-like. Marvellously irritating, Corrine Koslo’s Lola is a slovenly housewife, personally unkempt and so desperate for company that her pathetic attempts for some momentary social intercourse with postmen/milkmen/telegram deliverers etc. become almost telegraphed (pun intended). All the while, she still calls out the title hoping that the Delaney’s missing doggie will return. Some theatre names become icons…’Blanche’; “Rick”; ‘Atticus’; “Toto” – “Lola” is just such a role and Koslo aces it. No wonder the woman seated behind me was seeing CBLS for a repeat experience.
Julia Course is an unconvincingly ingenuous young lady. We just know she’ll screw Kevin McGarry’s bad boy-with-abs; Turk. Miscast and not up to the thespian level of the two stars, even with Maxwell’s directing, Course can’t “stay-the – !!!” McGarry physically looks the part and infuses his ‘Turk’ with the magnetism always associated with the type. Major support is contributed by Sharry Flett. Her original condescension towards Koslo mirrors the work ethic her Eastern European character would undoubtedly & innately possess. After Reid’s descent, it is Flett who supports and ultimately converts Koslo’s life and lifestyle. Flett does more symbolically with a re-arrangement of center-piece flowers in a vase; than many other actors could do with a ton of dialogue! There’s a ‘For Sale sign next door to us… maybe Sharry & “Mr. Coffman” might consider moving in.
The set is bleak and impressionistically shows the neighbors with whom Lola shares nothing but proximity. The overall impact is bleak and reeks of desperation. COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA is also bleak, but seeing how realistically Maxwell and her stars interpret it for us, make this another sure success for the Shaw season. Audiences will be dramatically mesmerized.