Many older plays almost seem to beg for revivals. That’s why we see so many productions of “Our Town” or “You Can’t Take it With You” — the plays are solid, and hold up, even though they were written when theatergoers were a different sort.
Some plays, however, do not hold up and should stay in our memory. Such is the case with “Morning’s at Seven,” currently in production with the Schenectady Civic Players.
In a small Midwestern town, three sisters (Carol Charniga, Paula Ginder and Rita Russell) live next door to one another, with a fourth sister just up the street. No one is happy with their situation; everyone feels alienated and alone. Add a young couple waffling about whether to marry and the various spouses of the sisters and you get, well, a very long evening where very little happens except a lot of complaining.
’Morning’s at Seven’
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Players, 12 S. Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through Oct. 27
HOW MUCH: $17
MORE INFO: 382-2081, www.civicplayers.org
As I watched the show, I tried to pin down what made the show so stilted and painful to watch. It certainly wasn’t the set (beautifully designed by Duncan Morrison) or the costumes (bright and period-appropriate, designed by Marcia Thomas.)
It most definitely wasn’t the acting. Collectively, there was some of the best local talent you could ever care to watch. Carol Charniga, Paula Ginder, Bill Hickman, Amy M. Lane and Rita Russell are actors to watch for, actors that command the space once they’re on the stage.
I can’t even fault the direction much. Joe Fava managed to get what he could from the script. The humorous bits, while sadly too few, were as funny as they could be, and the stage pictures were lovely.
If there’s anything to criticize, it would be that quite a bit of the show could have been cut. There’s no reason for this show to have run just a hair less than two hours, 45 minutes, with intermission. It’s a very talky piece, and a lot of the talking was repetitive and unnecessary.
Which leads to the main problem: the script itself. It’s not very well-written — Lane’s character does very little but giggle and simper; I was horrified an actress as talented as she was forced to play such a one-note role — and it’s very dated. What would seem shocking in 1939, when it was originally performed on Broadway, barely fazes audiences now.
The show has been revived twice previously, in 1980 and 2002, starring some very talented women — it’s a very female-centric production. I can’t imagine why it continues to be revived.
It’s a shame that, with such powerful actors on stage, their talent is being wasted in such a lackluster play. With so many shows in the area currently in production, audiences are — and I say this with regret, as these actors alone are worth the ticket price — advised to give this one a pass.
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