I really didn’t belong there. I wasn’t invited. I didn’t know these women. I felt like a voyeur observing the most intimate moments of a family’s life. It was that real. But it was really Katie Forgette’s play The O’Conner Girls on the stage of Scripps Ranch Theatre.
Mother Sarah O’Conner, D’Ann Paton, and daughters Liz and Martha, Aimee Nelson and Kelly Lapczynski, have just returned from the funeral of husband and father, Tom. They have already begun the arduous task of sorting through his many boxes of memorabilia. What to save? What to give away? What to throw away? Pawing through this mess provides occasional insights and certainly memories. What we leave behind tells much about our values.
Twins Liz and Martha couldn’t possibly be more different. Liz is a beauty trying desperately to retain being 20 in a body knocking on 40. Martha has reached maturity maturely. Liz is a thrice-married wiz California real estate salesperson. Never married Martha has taken leave for the last year from her unglamorous job to tend to her ailing father and aid her stressed mother. One commonality is their love for classic films of the fifties and before, which they saw as kids. They are often challenging each other with single lines from their favorites.
Sarah shows an amazing level of resolve. His last year had been a very tough year for her and Martha. We meet bubbly Aunt Margie, Meghan Kaheny, part Catholic yenta, and hyperactive about everything. She is a perfect counterpoint to revelations of relationships we are about to experience concerning the O’Conner family. Painfully shy Dr. David Stevens, Daniel Kosoy, a family friend, himself in transition, reveals his true feelings after several fitful attempts.
While playwright Forgette provides enlightening dialog, these five actors bring The O’Conner Girls to life, a life so convincing it becomes our reality. It is indeed exciting to see actors so together in their roles and relationships that it is no longer acting. Paton slowly peels away the life and marital relationship of Sarah. One feels Sarah’s frustration. Nelson, whose character is the great deceiver, shows a level of pain seldom seen on the stage. Lapczynski, in her best role to date, subtly brings Martha’s internal depth to the surface in moments of enlightenment. Kaheny, as Aunt Margie, consistently burst through the thick structure of the Irish Roman Catholic background of her sister, giving fresh air in a beclouded environment. One does not mention the Lord’s name without a Catholic chant. It is Kosoy’s Dr. Stevens, the outsider, who brings a strange bit of light and love to the group.
Forgette has forged a powerful family drama. There is somebody in the group that almost everybody can identify with. She also brought closure in a delightfully charming way to the death of Tom. She brought hope to those to move on with their lives. While the end works for the story, it lacks just a bit of drama. The last scene is worth the price of admission in a play where just about every scene should receive the same accolade. What a cast!
D’Ann Paton, Aimee Nelson, Kelly Lapczynski, Megan Keheny, Daniel Kosoy
Producer Barbara Barber, AD/SM Brandy Luscalzo-Stemen, Set Designer Ted Crittenden, Lighting Designer Mitchell Simkovsky, Sound Designer Jim Caputo, Prop Master Debbie Blue, Costume Designer Tyra Beatty, Tech Sharon Boskovich
Total Rating: Three and a half stars
Author: Katie Forgette
Director: Charlie Riendeau
Date Reviewed: November 16, 2007
Dates: Weekends thru December 8, 2007
Running Time: 107 minutes with one 15-minute intermission
Scripps Ranch Theatre
Legler Benbough Theatre, Alliant International University,
10455 Pomerado Road
San Diego, CA
Box Office Phone 858 578-7728