theater (reviews)

review: Turning Page

by Angelica Page
Directed by Wilson Milam
Featuring Angelica Page
Dixon Place 161A Chrystie Street
February 10, 2017 – March 16, 2017
production site

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Angelica Page as Geraldine Page. Photo: Peter Yesley.

Look away for a moment and a multi-week run can be shortened (as this one has, with a few weeks apparently lopped off a run that that was originally announced into April that is now ticketed into mid-March) or a major storm can warn you off (my night at a Cherry Lane workshop production landed on the evening of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival and I didn’t trust that the subways would continue to get me home). Steady on and take advantage. There are wonders happening in the subterranean performance space at Dixon Place. Angelica Page’s homage to her mother is not a talented actress living through and living out her feelings about her mother but rather the daughter taking on the mother’s spirit. Angelica is Geraldine and it is a marvel.

From pieces of her mother’s unpublished memoir, from her own memories and from details assembled watching her mother over the years in person, on stage, and on screen, Angelica has crafted a solo show that quietly throbs with the rhythms of a mother’s heartbeat and the ties that bind mother to child. The show is in fact framed by the daughter — she is performing it, the title hints at the fact that this woman born with her father’s surname, Torn, in later life changed that name to her mother’s, and it refers to “turning the page” to a next phase of life. But this is not a high wire act of mimickry. this is lived enchantment that moves.

With a change of turban or scarf or wrap or a new bit of business, Angelica becomes Geraldine at home or on stage or in liminal theater space talking to us and recalling her own journey. We travel back decades to Gerry telling stories of growing up a child of the Midwest yearning to escape its limitations (as a Midwest native I deeply understand), to engaging with colleagues, to finding a creative home at the Actors Studio, to careening into love and expression in many forms (art, lovers, children). And through third person interrogation and careful selection of details, the mother reflects on the daughter who embodies the mother who stands before us commanding the tiny Dixon Place stage.

I attend my performance with a friend who often visited with Geraldine Page in the late ’70s during be-turbaned salon-giving hang out and talk theater sessions in her Chelsea home. During certain transformations in Turning Page, my pal gasps in delighted, moved recognition. I gasp at the same sections purely through appreciation of the event itself — my love of Angelica’s performance and my dramaturgical appreciation of the selection and honing of script. This love song sung by a daughter to a mother, from performer to performer, is a gift to us.

And a bonus attribute of the Dixon Place performance location is a comfortable bar upstairs where you can avail yourself of a Geraldine-approved cocktail for the occasion, featuring mostly gin and a splash of tonic. Don’t look away; catch this special love poem before the run ends.

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Tonic Water with a Tanqueray “Splash” — a drink that Geraldine appreciated. On offer for the run of  Turning Page at Dixon Place. Photo: Martha Wade Steketee

© Martha Wade Steketee (March 10, 2017)

Playwright | Angelica Page
Director | Wilsom Milam
Hair + Wig Design | Richard Stein
Lighting Design | Rob Lariviere

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