By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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He's still alive, though, and you just got the phone call saying they “saved his liver,” while spinal cord damage is to be determined.
And your middle sister, Meg, has come home, ostensibly taking a break from her nightclub singing career, to see about Babe.
This is what Lenny, the eldest MaGrath sister, is dealing with as she turns 30. And though her siblings have all kind of trouble with men — Meg was always, ahem, “popular” — there's no beau in Lenny's life.
So begins “Crimes of the Heart,” the Southern-flavored tragicomedy opening tonight (Friday) for a three-week run at Olympic Theatre Arts.
The play, written by Beth Henley, won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for drama and became a movie with Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek in 1986. The Olympic Theatre Arts interpretation, naturally, has its own kind of spicing.
“The cast is extremely talented,” said director Roger Briggs, who's sharing the “Crimes” helm with his wife, Sharon Briggs.
Jessica Campbell plays Meg, while her husband Aaron Campbell is Doc, Meg's man who got away. Melissa Murray is Babe, the sister who shot her spouse — and who thinks prison would be a relief after living with him.
Lily Carignan portrays Lenny, a character to whom she feels a strong connection. Lenny is the one who cares for the sisters' frail Old Granddaddy, and who puts up with their judgmental cousin Chick. Alexandria Edouart is Chick in all her loud-dress, big-hair glory.
One of the most delightful parts of the play, Carignan said, is when she gets to give Chick a good swat with a broom.
Then there's the drama that follows Babe. Once she is bailed out of jail, her young lawyer Barnette Lloyd (Edwin Anderson III) comes to the MaGrath household to discuss her defense.
But Babe won't talk to him. He instead sits down with Meg, and tells her how charmed he was by her singing at a venue he frequented.
Their interaction is a mere prelude to the electric one between Meg and Doc.
This scene's the one Jessica Campbell loves best. “There's great tension, but a sweet playfulness to it,” she said.
Not so playful is another scene Jessica relishes: the fight between Meg and Lenny.
“I feel like a lot of feelings that have gone unspoken for a long time are finally put out there,” she said, “and we really get into each other's faces.”
The sisters are deeply flawed people, Jessica said. They're also tough.
“When they finally turn to each other, they realize how much support and healing can be found in family.”
“Crimes of the Heart” is “full of poignancy, irony and laughter,” said Anderson, who also pointed to that scene between Doc and Meg as one of his favorite passages.
“I think this show will speak to anyone who has ever been frustrated with a family member,” added Jessica's husband Aaron.
He offered a succinct summary of “Crimes'” theme.
“Life is crazy,” he said, “but family is important.”
“Crimes of the Heart” is on the main stage at Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave., tonight, July 5, through July 21 with curtain times at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for OTA members and active military service members and $11 for youth 16 and younger.
The outlets include the OTA box office, reachable at 360-683-7326 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door before each performance. In addition, a pay-what-you-can show will start at 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday, July 10, with first-come, first served seating.
For more information about “Crimes” and other OTA activities, see www.OlympicTheatreArts.org.