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Crimes of the Heart at the Union Theatre

Peter Carrington for EXTRA! EXTRA!

All set within the kitchen of Olâ Granpappyâs house where Lenny, ably played by Marjorie Lopez Tibbs lives having looked after her grandfather before he went to hospital.

Her sister Meg (Trudi Jackson) returns from California after an urgent telegram stating that their younger sister Babe's (Gemma Sutton) husband has been shot and she is in trouble. What occurs after is a compelling exploration of deceit, families, chances and consequence, but mostly about three sisters, seemingly extremely different but all sharing familial traits and love for each other.

What is initially striking is the amazing set created within the Union Theatre by Simon Anthony Wells and George Nuttall; the attention to detail reaches out to the eye and envelopes the audience, dragging them into the atmosphere of 1970s Mississippi and not letting go. This image is completed by the period costumes by Gwenda Evans, hinting at the characters personalities within historical context.

The action revolves around three sisters, Marjorie Lopez Tibbs gives great energy to Lenny and acts as an empathetic lynchpin around which her more impulsive sisters revolve. Trudi Jackson, plays the enigmatic Meg, who spends several conversations with her back to the audience and her face obscured by hair or shadow. This is ambitious direction and pays off in the second and third Acts. Gemma Sutton marries the script to a character that could be difficult or unwieldy if not played correctly but she does it so well Babe is both sympathetic and selfish, completing the trinity of crimes of the heart against those they love and hate.

The trio of sisters are backlit by a bright supporting cast such as Jayne Ashley as Chick, their self-righteous cousin, Gus Gallagher as the rugged Doc, never overstating his performance and being charming seemingly without trying. Finally Leon Williams as Barnette, the legal counsel to Babe conveys a wealth of emotion as well as exposition.

Crimes of the Heart is therefore a powerful cocktail of emotion, professionally executed with a healthy marriage of script and talent front and back stage.

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