Saturday, January 16, 2010
The lovely and well-named Little Gem introduces us to three generations of women in an Irish family: Kay (Anita Reeves), on the "far side of sixty" and caring for her beloved husband, who has had a stroke; Lorraine (Hilda Fay), her daughter, who tries to keep her anxiety and unhappiness in check by keeping things very neat and clean; and Amber (Sarah Greene), Lorraine's teenaged daughter, in love with a young man who is not quite in love with her. Through alternating monologues, they tell us of their lives, loves, fears, and adventures, including Kay's foray into the land of sex toys, Lorraine's quest to do "one nice thing for herself," and Amber's unexpected but not necessarily unwanted pregnancy. Seeing Little Gem is like spending an hour and a half with three wonderful women who you wish didn't talk quite so much. (Personally, I would have much preferred a series of scenes with the women interacting--perhaps supplemented with monologues--rather than the turn-taking, straight-to-the-audience, no-variety approach.) The cast is top-notch: Sarah Greene completely captures Amber's unsureness and growing maturity (although her accent was more than occasionally indecipherable), Anita Reeves beautifully combines the heartbreak of having a seriously ill husband with deep gratitude for every day she has had with him, and Hilda Fay depicts Lorraine's love-inspired transition with a performance so total and so genuine that by the end of the play she looks like a completely different--happy!--person.