Crimes of the Heart
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Eric Chazankin

Family is the emphasis in Crimes of the Heart now playing at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma. This Pulitzer Prize winning play by Beth Henley tells the story of three sisters from a small town in Mississippi.

Babe (Ivy Rose Miller), the youngest sister, just shot her husband. When asked why, she said: “I didn’t like his looks.” She aimed for his heart, but hit him in the stomach. Afterwards she made some lemonade and asked him if he wanted a glass. But all he wanted was for her to call 911. She did.

Lenny (Sarah McKereghan) is the oldest. It’s her 30th birthday and there’s never been a man in her life. As she sits in the kitchen worrying about Babe, she lights a candle on a cookie and sings happy birthday to herself. After she blows it out, she lights it again and sings again. By the third time, the entire audience is laughing. Though we see the humor in it, we also can’t help feeling her loneliness and fear for Babe.

Meg comes home from California, where she went to pursue a singing and acting career without success. There’d been many men in Meg’s life. She’s a good looking gal that ran away from the small town she grew up in. She came home to support Babe through her trial.

The entire play is full of that offbeat southern humor that we find in many southern writers like Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner and Eudora Welty. We laugh at the characters and their many problems, but at the same time we feel for their ability to endure anything that life throws at them. “I am the youngest of six children,” said director Sheri Lee Miller, “the last four of whom were girls, so I identify very strongly with the whole ‘sister’ dynamic. I warned the cast right off the bat that they were going to be hearing far more about my family than they probably wanted to hear, but that’s what this play does. It dredges up your memories and forces you to examine them in light of your present. Revisiting the past isn’t always easy, but can be strangely comforting, even when it is painful.”

For tickets or more information about his fine drama call 707-763-8920 or visit www.cinnabartheater.org.

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