Perhaps it was just a Mother’s Day coincidence that two strong female leads graced our local boards this week. One we all know through story and song, and the other is someone we should be so lucky as to know.
Kathleen Bosworth leads director Taylor Kasch’s stellar cast as Margie in Santa Paula Theater Center’s Good People, a tale centered around three women toughened by life in South Boston who never lose their senses of humor or the ability to swing back at the punches.
Freshly released from a dollar-store job, Margie’s backbone only bends. In fact Bosworth and her cronies Jean and Dottie (Kim Prendergast and Jill Dolan) are so real, their dialogue so crisp and genuinely paced, that audiences will likely forget they’re in a theater until intermission. Their timing, dialects and humor are so uniquely Boston that the conversation and cursing flow as naturally as if they were happening in our own living room.
That other woman that you all know is Mrs. Robinson. The one we still coo-coo-cachoo about. Angela Stern is the shining star of the Conejo Players’ new production of Charles Webb’s masterpiece The Graduate. Stern possesses all the confidence and swagger of the infamous disaffected housewife who swaps her home life for a hotel key.
Both Stern’s Mrs. Robinson and Bosworth’s Margie face down their own sense of hopelessness where it would be easy to become bitter, or as Margie’s doctor friend Mikey (Ron Feltner) diagnoses: “Did you get mean, Margie?” Each closes ranks with her confidants; one with her fellow Mouthies from Southies while finding new work through an old flame. Meanwhile the other finds release by spending evenings in a hotel with a man young enough to date her daughter.
And here a trilogy of excellent female performers is brought full circle by Michelle Stratton, whose Elaine Robinson possesses perfect range and charm. Elaine is a young woman looking for a little guidance, hope and a future despite an alcoholic mother and bullying father. She does whatever other people tell her and, in her wedding scene when she finds out what her mother really thinks of her, we witness Stratton turn Elaine’s ship in a whole new direction.
Adversity and tension don’t break these women on stage, they only make them stronger and more fulfilling to watch.
Good People through June 7 at Santa Paula Theater Center, 125 S. Seventh St., Santa Paula, 525-4645. The Graduate (adult audiences only) through May 30 at Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks, 495-3715.