Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ann ***

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
I am not generally a fan of solo theatrical performances, so I was pleasantly surprised that I found this Lincoln Center Theater production quite enjoyable. In a bravura performance which keeps her onstage for almost two hours, Holland Taylor creates a vivid incarnation of Ann Richards, former Texas governor. Even though Taylor is also the playwright, I find her feat of memory remarkable. In the frame of a college commencement speech, we get a look back at Richards' early life and influences, her political career including a detailed look at one day in office, life after her defeat by George Bush and even a look beyond the grave. The emphasis is on anecdotes and reminiscences, many of them hilarious. Her battle with alcohol and her unhappy marriage are mentioned very briefly. It's more effective as an entertaining extended character sketch than as a history lesson. Some judicious trimming, particularly in the second act, would improve it. Nevertheless, it makes for a diverting evening. Michael Fagin's set design morphs from a generic auditorium stage to an attractive gubernatorial office. Julie Weiss's costume looks like something Richards would choose. Benjamin Endsley Klein's direction includes a few lovely grace notes, such as the office set receding as Richards looks back on her term as governor. Running time: two hours, including intermission.

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