“April, May and June,” a new play written by Gary Goldstein , directed by Terri Hanauer, and produced by David Lee Stafford,
makes its debut at Theatre 40 Beverly Hills, bringing together 3 sisters: April (Jennifer Lee Laks); May (Jennifer Taub); and June (Meredith Thomas), who come to terms with their mother’s recent death . Each one is dealing with letting go in her own unique way, and in the cathartic process the 3 form a deep bond through poignant dialogue and reminiscing .
Their depth of characters develop, as they “mourn out loud” onstage, all the while uncovering secrets and mysteries of yesteryears. The play showcases these three highly talented actresses who exude natural chemistry , remarkable range of emotion , and the inherent ability to share how truly precious life is, all the while, maneuvering this gut-wrenching journey .
With shades of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story, the first scene begins with somewhat light hearted banter between the oldest and middle daughter (April and May ) and gradually crescendos as youngest sibling June enters the scene ; with an intense, almost volatile second act as secrets come to the forefront .
Grieving over the loss of their mother, while packing up her belongings, serves, theoretically as the backdrop , yet so much angst,tension, and fury over harrowing memories of their dysfunctional childhood with hints of an alcoholic father , seethes beneath the surface . Sibling rivalry is an age old theme, dating back to biblical times i.e. Joseph and his brothers ;Rachel and Leah ; yet this play takes sibling rivalry to a whole new level . The 3 sisters seem to be in fierce competition from the moment they were born ,with a weak mother who vied for their affection and unwittingly pitted one sister against another, resulting in a bitter family dynamic as adult siblings.
The second act is much more powerful and intriguing than the first, as secrets unravel and unfold. To lighten the intensity factor , the siblings rely on a running joke about the corny cornware and how tasteless the design , and as each picture frame gets unhinged and packed into boxes , the tension in the air thickens, akin to pea soup , green with envy and oneupmanship . The climactic moment when April discovers a stack of envelopes , which we discover are love letters, I became totally entranced. This scene cleverly was the final one before intermission , raising questions and curiosities along with vibrant mid theatre discussion amongst audience members!
In second act , as each secret unravels and builds upon the next, the sisters gain insight on their formative years and how they evolved to the adults they have become . A most intimate and memorable moment is when all three sisters embrace and cuddle on the couch , venting their grief and in the process, appreciating each other’s presence . As the sisters “drink up” a vodka in commiseration , all inhibitions loosen and empathies increase .
Quite a powerful performance indeed!
All this “mama drama ” took place in a 99 seat theatre venue, with room for enormous potential.
Theatre 40. 241 S Moreno Drive Beverly Hills
Through April 16th
Thursdays through Saturdays 8pm