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features much humor, fantastic acting

 by Frank Belsky


Saturday, February 1, 2003 

 Challenged by choice, the Pawtucket Community Players again rise to the level of a theatrical masterpiece.  The relatively short but popular run of “Crimes of the Heart” at Jenks Junior High School Auditorium ends Sunday.

With typical enthusiasm, competent acting and the charismatic lead of Valerie Remillard, the Players do justice to Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize winning script.

But justice, according to Henley, is inherently flawed.  The law overlooks catastrophic emotional assaults.  “Crimes of the Heart” focuses on these.

Set in a rural Mississippi town in 1974, the focus is on character development.  So scenery is never more than a kitchen in the McGrath family homestead.

There, sisters, Lenny (Jannette Gregorian,) Meg, (Kathleen Bebeau-Katic) and Babe Botrelle (Valerie Remillard) examine their lives.  

Lenny stays home, caring for a Grandfather who cared for her and her sisters after mother hanged herself and the cat.  But Lenny’s act of selfishness goes unrewarded.  She’ll never be married, her imposing Grandfather convinced her, and certainly not after an operation left her barren.  

We immediately take to Gregorian’s quiet but strong adaptation to her character’s loneliness.  (Lenny holds a birthday party, complete with cake and candle and herself as the lone guest.) 

While Gregorian is pathetic, she’s tough to permit us to laugh at her quirks.  She’s likeable and captures her character with correct mix of sadness and humor.

Meg is the bad girl, who in attempt to escape her sleepy and unseemly beginnings, heads for Hollywood to find herself as performer and actress.  The escape attempt takes her nowhere but back to herself and Hazelhurst.

Bebeau-Katic brings every bit of her multi-dimensional character to on stage.  Her cynical, bad girl aura is ever present and perfectly projected.  Unlike Lenny, Meg is unlikable in every way.  Credit Bebeau-Katic with an ability to draw us in and push us away.

Babe Botrelle is the central character.  Valerie Remillard delights us with what first seems like innocence.  As her character unravels her  innocence becomes less and less convincing.

The attractive, refreshing and meticulous young actress executes perfect control.  She projects and articulates, professionally.  Together with mastery of movement, consistent release of energy, and compelling delivery, her preparation, appears to be intensely focused.

Chick Boyle is a cousin of the McGrath sisters who embodies the worst family traits.  She’s the obnoxious cousin who gossips and pierces the veneer of anyone nearby.   

Karen Kessler’s comic interaction with Janette Gregorian’s Lenny, are some of funniest moments in this often-comical script.

Barnette Lloyd, played Brian Lemieux is Babe’s lawyer, fighting to save her honor and, at the same time, to carry out personal vendetta against her husband, Zach.  Lemieux is a local math teacher.  If he moved to Mississippi, he could, no doubt, practice law.

Finally, Doc Porter is a major victim of Meg McGrath’s monumental inconsideration.  Jim Ladouceur evokes our sympathy and likewise nails his part. 

Vincent Lupino directs it.

          Crimes of The Heart 
          Jenks Junior HS Auditorium
         Pawtucket, RI

(401) 726-6860

Performances  are:  Saturday night, February 1 at 8 pm 
Sunday afternoon, February 2nd at 2 pm. 
Call for reservations at 726-6860