Love Woes

Old, Borrowed and Blue

By Cara Worth
Directed by Stephen Waldrup
Midtown International Theatre Festival
New 42nd Street Theatre
348 W. 42nd Street, 2nd floor (279-4200)
Equity showcase (Festival closes Aug. 5; call for schedule)
Review by Andrés J. Wrath

Cara Worth's Old, Borrowed and Blue is an example of how to showcase both your writing and acting talents. In it she played Anna, arriving home late one Saturday night in a Brooklyn apartment. She talks to her cat and tells it about her marital woes. Worth is a likable and able-bodied performer who seemed fully committed to her task. Not only did she play Anna as a woman who seems to be losing her mind, she performed other roles in the evening with equal conviction that was luminous and very very funny. From her mother-in-law to her husband's mistress to the womanizing Joe, Worth transformed into the characters she played effortlessly and with effervescence.

What does work well in the writing is the distinctive voice Worth gave each character. Beatrice (Anna's mother-in-law) can never be confused with, say, Mike's mistress. Beatrice's manipulating Mike into seeing how Anna abuses her, sending Anna into a tail spin, was the high point of the evening. Here the writing met the level of the actress. Also, Mike's mistress, seductive and alluring, was a hilarious creation: it seemed to be a fantasy in Anna's mind of who she thinks this woman is and actually how this woman wins men. At the end of that segment, the mistress tells Anna she should get remarried and introduce her new husband to her. What was interesting in both the writing and the acting was how sharply observed Anna's perception (or fantasy) of this woman is. Never did Worth, the writer or performer, send the evening into angry self-indulgence. Instead, the segment was funny, wildly seductive, and self revelatory. Is this the woman that Anna would like to become but is too afraid of becoming? Or is it easier for her to believe this in order for her to accept the loss of her husband? It's these unanswered questions that raise Old, Borrowed and Blue above standard one-woman-show.

What does not work nearly as well is the play's construction. There never appears to be an over all action. Anna at times appears to be getting this off her chest, but wouldn't it be far more interesting, for example, if she needed to win Mike back, forcing her to confront Beatrice, the Mistress, Joe, and most of all Mike? If Worth can build that into the evening the next go 'round, Old, Borrowed and Blue would pack more of a punch.

Director Stephen Waldrup did an excellent job modulating Worth's dynamic levels as an actress but faired less well with the overall staging. At the beginning, the actress entered and cooked soup on an electric stove top sitting on a table top. It was unclear why this happened, since Worth never ate the soup nor referred to it. The uncredited set seemed too busy for its own good, and the uncredited lights seemed to strive for moodiness but didn't quite get there.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2001 Andrés J. Wrath