theater (reviews)

review: woman before a glass

Woman Before A Glass

By Lanie Robertson
Directed by Austin Pendleton
Featuring Judy Rosenblatt
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, Abingdon Theatre, 312 West 36th Street
production web site: http://tinyurl.com/4xattzc

May 13 2011 — May 29, 2011

Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
May 14, 2011

Judy Rosenblatt as Peggy Guggenheim.

Subtitled “A Triptych in Four Parts”, this 2005 play receives a moving and focused revival production at the Abingdon Theatre.  Larger than life “poor relation” (they had billions, we had millions Peggy tells us) of the museum Guggenheims, Peggy marries more than once, has several biological children, yet spends her life and her passionate energy on her other children, the components of her massive art collection.  We spend 90 minutes in theatrical time with her at her Venetian Palazzo Venier dei Leoni over a five-year period — our four “parts” taking place in 1963, 1965, 1967, and 1968.  As with any well-crafted one person play based on life, each of these moments is built around an evocative real moment: the visit of a political dignitary, the evening of an art exhibition, the death of a child, a moonlit moment of remembrance.  And we are enchanted.

Director Austin Pendleton has created a lovely world with actress Judy Rosenblatt filled with stage moments, play with costumes, evocative sound design by Giovanni Villari.  We dream with Guggenheim the romance of her Venetian life.  We hear and feel and don’t judge her choices of lust over conventional motherhood and wifehood.  Rosenblatt makes us feel the warmth of a woman who lives through art and her insecurities about her looks.  And along the way makes us laugh and cry with her all-too-human pains.

© Martha Wade Steketee (May 15, 2011)

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