Photo by Don Kellogg

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens is Christine Ebersole's show to shine in. And boy-oh-boy - did she ever! This recent transfer to Broadway is the story of Edith Bouvier Beale, her daughter, Edie, and their extreme relationship. The show is filled with wealthy family drama, the back-story of their connections to the Kennedy Clan, their extreme transformation with age, and of course a good dose of music - something Edith herself used to fill the many voids in her life.

Act I portrays the gay days (taken both literally and figuratively!) of the family in 1941 at the Beale Summer House - Grey Gardens - out in the Hamptons. This is the time period that young Edie meets and almost marries a young Joe Kennedy. Christine plays Mother Edith - the strong willed, powerful, yet extremely vulnerable matriarch of the Beale Family (while her husband is off fooling around on Wall Street and cheating on his wife). Kudos go out to John McMartin who plays a wonderfully entertaining Father to Edith - Major Bouvier.

In Act II Christine transforms herself into her own daughter - and Mary Louise Wilson takes over as her aging Mother in 1974 - - in what can only be described as the extreme decline of Grey Gardens. She is a recluse, the house is falling apart and they are both quite eccentric and have become locally infamous for the squalor they live in - - So much so that Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis actually made several public statements on the situation of her aunt and cousin.

The quick witted and sharp tongued Ebersole tears thru both acts with gusto. Showing us at first her desire as Edith to impress and entertain - and then later her personal struggle as Edie with having her life "ruined" by her mother. In the end - she's not strong (or sane) enough to leave - despite her regrets, anger, and desire to do so.

The feelings of gaiety and lyrical music turn to hopelessness, desperation, and squalor in a mere 3 hours on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater on West 48th.