Reviewed by Gail M. Burns, July, 2000
This is a terrific show. The play, which is being given its world premiere production after several workshop readings, has a few minor glitches. But the production that Barrington Stage has mounted is just about perfect and that makes this the Must-See production of the Berkshire 2000 season thus far.
The most wonderful thing about this show is Kelli Gidditch in the lead role of 16 year-old Phoebe Harris. Phoebe has just blossomed into a beautiful young woman, after the pre-requiste awkward period, and this has coincided with the break-up for her parents 20-year marriage. Phoebe is a bright, creative girl and seems to be taking everything pretty much in stride, but she feels things more deeply than she lets on.
Gidditch will be entering her junior year in college in the fall, which I guess makes her about 20. Not so much older than Phoebe that she can't get every last adolescent mannerism down perfectly. And she is a lovely looking young woman, which makes Phoebe's struggle with her own changing apprearance work well. Gidditch has been with the play as Phoebe through some ofthe workshop process, and she has obviously crawled inside of the character's skin in a way that an older and more jaded performer wouldn't dare. At the play's climax she cried, I cried, my mother (who was at the theatre with me) cried. It was very real.
Gidditch is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast and a wonderful and inventive set. The show, which runs about 100 minutes, is performed without an intermission which allows it to build and maintain its momentum. Go to the bathroom ahead of time because you won't want to miss a minute of this play.
It is still way too rare to find a theatre company head by a woman Julianne Boyd who would go out of her way to take a chance on a new work by a female playwright (Suzanne Bradeer) about a young girl and hire a woman director (Mary Robinson) for the project. Boyd has also shown a strong commitment to bringing young people into the theatre - through BSC's youth theatre company (currently performing "Guys and Dolls" at Pittsfield's Springside Park) and through other community outreach projects - and by performing works about young people or of interest to young people, such as "Full Bloom"
"Full Bloom" is an excellent play to take a teenager to see - I would recommend that you scoop up the nearest young woman and take her along. BSC makes it easy for young people to experience this important work. Students 17 and under are admitted free, when accompanied by full-price ticket holders. (One student per ticket holder, please.
"Full Bloom" runs through August 5 at Barrington Stage Company. The show runs about 100 minutes and I would encourage anyone with access to a teenage girl to take her and go. For tickets and information call the box office at 413-528-8888.
copyright Gail M. Burns, 2000
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