Trapped in amber

Like Bees To Honey

By Andrea Green
Directed by Steve Hess
Boz and the Bard Productions, Inc.
Sande Shurin Theatre
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Julie Halpern

Andrea Green's provocative new play about alcohol and drug addiction among women was given its New York debut by Boz and the Bard, a new theatre company formed by last year's OOBR-award winning playwright and director Frank Avellino (Ice in April) and Steve Hess. Avellino and Hess have produced another success with this cautionary tale of five women from diverse backgrounds and the toll their addictions take on them and their loved ones. Some grew up with alcoholic parents, some wanted to keep up with hard-drinking boyfriends and spouses, but this illness does not discriminate; addiction cuts through every stratum of society.

Kate is a spirited young woman from an alcoholic family who hopes attaining her nursing degree will give her the life she has always dreamed of. Ultimately her drinking and subsequent pill usage (not surprisingly, pilfered from the hospital) causes an accident and her dismissal. Rita is a stunning Hispanic woman who has transformed her life through hard work, finally landing a prestigious writing job. Her addictions send her down the same unfortunate path as Kate. Sara is a respected art professor, haunted by the ghost of her alcoholic mother, whose marriage spirals out of control from her drinking. Jesse is a successful attorney, tortured by her alcoholic marriage, and Keisha a young African American mother who finally seeks help after battering one of her children. Each character bravely bares the wreckage of their lives, and their attempts to pull themselves out of despair, in an AA meeting. Most of the women are desperate enough to clean up their lives, and will probably make it, but Rita is still defiant and her recovery is in question.

The talented women of this ensemble contributed heartrending portrayals that held the audience spellbound. Christina Sasson's fresh-faced, painfully honest Kate shone with intelligence and self-deprecating humor. Constance Reardon's body language, and accent were flawless in her portrayal of the sensual, rebellious Rita. Karen Asconi's fragile, intellectual Sara displayed remarkable insight. Maude Boylan's cool blonde beauty and sophistication made her pathetic drunken attempts to pick up a man in a restaurant absolutely chilling. Tasha Guevara's manic, crack-addled Keisha showed the most growth of all, with a rock-solid commitment to sobriety for the sake of her children. Janet-Grace Swaim made a brief but lasting impression as a 15-year-old, too drunk to avoid being attacked by her date.

Hess directed the sensitive material with a firm hand, never allowing the proceedings to become maudlin. Peter Colleto's lighting had a violet tinge that revealed the actresses' faces in high relief. Avellino's spare set with Toulouse-Lautrec's portrait of the alcoholic artist Suzanne Valadon (drinking absinthe) as the centerpiece was very striking. All the women wore simple black outfits with red accessories. Hess and Avellino deserve praise for providing such rich acting opportunities for women. Judging from the sold-out houses this show enjoyed, audiences are obviously interested in women's lives. Other theatre companies take notice!

Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Set Design: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting Design 2/Sound Design 1

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Copyright 2001 Julie Halpern