A Midwestern family, in the 1980s, struggles with conflict and crisis in playwright Lee Blessing’s Independence. The play unfolds in Independence, a small town in Iowa. Independence is also the emotional commodity traded by the family at a painful price.
The Douglaston Community Theatre (DCT) players need just four actors and one set to convey their intensity. Director Teresa Zugger is well known on local stages as both actress and opera soprano. For this project she has plunged the audience into a well- stirred mixture of angst, anger and dark humor. Hopefully she will use her talents to anchor additional ventures in the future.
Three sisters and their mother battle each other for physical and psychological supremacy. Kess is the oldest. She has managed to flee their small town while protecting her secrets, including her less tolerated sexual preference. Portrayed by local favorite Mary Lynch, the character is strong enough to challenge her suffocating mother yet compassionate enough to accept her sister’s cries for help.
Jo is the middle daughter. Her relationship with her mother has met a physically violent crossroads. Charged with the task of caretaking her unstable parent, she has made too many sacrifices with too few rewards. As Jo, local veteran Amie Backner is both dependent on her mother and fiercely determined to break free. She is both naïve yet provocative with almost catastrophic results.
Sherry is the youngest. She is the most independent of the three. That is, the most promiscuous, the most free with four letter words (seldom heard on community stages), the most outspoken and clearly the most self-absorbed. The role is deftly handled by Lisa Lawrence. She is physically aloof, often halfway across the stage from her family. This distance reinforces the gap in her age, intellect and emotions when compared with professor Kess and inexperienced Jo.
The hub of the household is Evelyn, their mother. She considers herself long- suffering but is viewed as domineering by all three daughters. She has also demonstrated violent and self destructive evidence of old age. However, her cruel comments towards all three daughters are well crafted and manipulative. Played by another familiar face, Annette Daiell, she sent shudders through the audience with her very effective interpretation.
Independence concludes this weekend, Friday March 4 and Saturday March 5, at the Zion Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 44th Avenue off Douglaston Parkway. Call 718-482-3332 for information.