Crimes of the Heart – a triumph for the Phoenix!

Crimes of the Heart – a triumph for the Phoenix!

Sheila Martindale reviews UVic’s Crimes of the Heart

By Sheila Martindale

Peter McGuire, the Director of Crimes of the Heart, noted that this particular play was close to his heart, since he grew up with five sisters, and therefore knew quite a lot about women’s emotions. He also mentioned how important casting is, and how pleased he was with the women he had selected to play the four strong female roles – how much he had learned from them.

Indeed, this particular piece of theatre is cogent and illuminating. We begin with Lenny, celebrating her 30th birthday more or less alone, despite the comings and goings of her two sisters and her bossy cousin. Sophie Chappell, as Lenny, is quite brilliant – she is the girl who stayed home to care for her aging grandfather, currently in hospital and not doing well. The camp bed set up on stage is a reminder of his presence in her life, even though we never see him.

Her sister Meg, a (possibly failed) singer has reluctantly come home, complete with cigarettes, booze, and an attitude. Sarah Jean Valiquette is well suited to this vamp-ish character, and we silently applaud her devil-may-care approach to life.

The youngest sister, Babe, played by Lucy Sharples, has just shot her abusive husband, but he is still alive – another male character defined by his absence from the stage. Babe is sweet and charming, obviously in the wrong marriage, and delightfully unaware of the serious consequences she might face – evidenced by ‘making a jug of lemonade’ when asked about the events after the shooting. A difficult part, deftly handled.

The bossy cousin (Chick, loud and rude, well played by Mary Van Den Bossche) storms on and off the stage, leaving behind the rumbles of an earthquake when she exits.

The two males who actually appear, Duncan Alexander as Babe’s young and inexperienced lawyer, and Sheldon Graham, who plays Doc Porter, an old flame of Meg, are minor but key characters; both are well portrayed.

Crimes of the Heart takes place the 1970s, but has a fresh relevance today in this somewhat changed world we live in. The set, by Stefanie Mudry) is perfect to the last detail of the period. Madeline Lee’s costumes are also right on. The play will surely touch the heart of anyone with a family, or an annoying female relative. It reveals the fact that the family is stronger than the sum of its parts; we relate to the characters, and feel sympathy, or frustration with all the ups and downs of the various individuals. I think the playwright, Beth Henley, would approve.

Crimes of the Heart runs at the Phoenix until February 24. Don’t miss it! Call 250-721-8000 for tickets.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

A writer studying in England drew from her roots growing up in Sooke for a story that’s been short-listed for a prestigious international prize.
Former Sooke resident up for prestigious writing award

Cara Marks earns nomination for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Most Read