Susan Granger’s review of “Three Tall Women” (Golden Theater)
Glenda Jackson is back on Broadway – more forceful and ferocious than ever!
Joe Mantello’s new production of Edward Albee’s intensely personal drama, which won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1994, features not only 81 year-old Ms. Jackson but she’s matched by two formidable co-stars: 62 year-old Laurie Metcalf and 32 year-old Alison Pill.
Ms. Jackson plays “A”, a querulously ailing, exasperating version of playwright Albee’s adoptive mother, while Metcalf and Pill are her young, idealistic lawyer and jaded, stoical caregiver, respectively, in the first scene and younger, mirrored versions of “A” in the second. Theirs is no intermission.
Outspokenly prejudiced and racist, “A” is demanding and imperious, sneering at anyone who dares to oppose her often forgetful, outrageous edicts and convinced that everyone is conspiring to rob her of whatever money she still has left.
Perched on an elegantly upholstered armchair or reclining in the cream-colored bedroom, accented by French antiques and muted green accessories, she clutches tenuously to what remains of her authority and pride while reflecting on the experiences and caprices that shaped her life.
Referring to her rich husband as a ‘penguin,’ self-centered “A” mocks his short stature and glass eye, the result of a golfing mishap. Although she admittedly didn’t like sex much, she indulged in an adulterous affair with a groom at their stables.
And one of her most memorable reminiscences involves how her naked husband presented her with a ‘wide’ diamond bracelet, dangling it on his eager erection.
Left out of the Playbill is a complicated fourth character, “A’s” homosexual son, played silently by Joseph Medeiros. When he brings flowers to her bedside, it’s one of the play’s most poignant moments.
The production is enhanced by Miriam Buether’s stunning set, Ann Roth’s stylish costumes, Paul Gallo’s effective lighting and Fitz Patton’s subtle sound.
Propelled by Glenda Jackson, this trio of actresses bestow on Manhattan theatergoers the most exciting revival in many years.
FYI: If you wonder where Glenda Jackson has been since her last Broadway appearance, she’s spent the past 23 years in Britain’s House of Commons, elected on the Labour Party ticket, only recently returning to the London stage in the title role in a gender-blind production of “King Lear” at the Old Vic.
“Three Tall Women” is scheduled to play at the Golden Theater through June 24.