Poor little rich kids

Blood White

By Laurie Sales
Directed by Laurie Sales
Joint Stock Theater Alliance
Equity showcase (closes Feb. 11)
Bank Street Theatre, 151 Bank St. in Westbeth Theater Center (561-0979)
Review by Sheila Mart

Blood White can best be described as a comment on the foibles of human nature, which have been in existence since the beginning of recorded history. The title of the piece is quite symbolic, equating white with purity. It is told almost in documentary style, and some scenes have a powerful dramatic impact. While the characters are fictitious, author Laurie Sales admits that the inspiration for this piece stems from the true story of two teenagers, Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson, who were accused and convicted of murdering their baby in 1997. The character of Teddy (Timothy Fannon), acting as Chorus and commentator on the mores of the previous generation, is also a global traveler. The time frame of this play switches back and forth from the early '70s through the present to the future. To accomplish this time journey, there is extensive use of narration, by a Chorus (from all but one of the cast), a technique reminiscent of classic Greek tragedy, with Red (Bryan Schany) and White (Sarah Hays) (the pivotal characters here) rationalizing their own rebellious behavior. They live in a rat-invested basement of a tenement building, even though she is about to give birth to their baby.

Red and White are intensely critical of their traditional parents, Anastasia (Margie Stokely) and Tony (Rod Thomas), and how they conducted their lives in the early '70s in a financially secure setting. One of several flashbacks shows how Anastasia, who was not totally in love with Tony, settled for the proverbial white picket fence and all that that entailed. This is a familiar story of how wealth can be a poor substitute for true love. It also shows how little life has changed: Red and White soon come to realize that they are starting to behave like their parents. Ms. Sales, who admits to being an insider of the silver-spoon community in a publicity promo, neither condemns nor condones the behavior of the wealthy. The writing is sparse yet pungent at times.

The performances were uniformly good and convincing, but despite the training of all this talented group of players, who all worked as a cohesive unit, essential to the piece, there was an overall lack of sustained diction. Fannon, Schany, Hays, and Stokley are all excellent and totally believable in their interpretations. Thomas had an understanding of the character but was somewhat over-the-top in his execution. Jared Voss (Robert) gave a consummate performance; Kelly Van Zile (Lizzie) and Diane Landers (Caroline) rounded out their roles with total sincerity.

The costumes, by Sara Jean Tosetti were just right. The sound design of Jill B.C. Du Boff could not have been bettered. Severn Clay's set, with piles of books, emphasized the educational background of the characters. But the lighting, as mood-setting as it was, could have been cheated a bit so that we could see a little more.

Box Score:

Writing: 1

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Set: 1

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2001 Sheila Mart