‘Crimes of the Heart’ a can’t-miss comedy

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By TAYLOR WOLFF
staff writer

Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre proved comedy can be found in tragedy with its performance of “Crimes of the Heart.”
A Pulitzer Prize-winning tragicomedy, “Crimes of the Heart” centers around the unorthodox reunion of the three Magrath sisters-Meg, Babe and Lenny.
Set in ‘70s Mississippi, this dysfunctional family congregates at Old Granddaddy’s home after the youngest sister, Babe, shoots her abusive husband.
The Magrath sisters each face the music of their past all while living in the shadow of a soured family reputation due to the decisions of their late mother.
Past transgressions of the sisters begin to appear practically as soon as each steps through the door.
Celebrating her 30th birthday, Lenny is responsible for caring for sick Granddaddy and preventing the family from falling to pieces, all while ignoring her loneliness and heartache.
Meg, a former singer, is forced to face her “easy” behavior once she crosses paths with an old flame.
Babe must come to terms with the consequences of all of her scandalous actions.
The cast, composed of only six actors, without a doubt delivered a comedic performance. Megan Hamm, Lizzy Merski and Kara Headley proved to be a powerful trifecta on the Schuster Theatre stage.
Hamm delivered a portrayal of Babe that was the perfect combination of innocence and cluelessness, all while being somewhat psychotic. Her deadpan delivery of the ditzy Southern gal kept the audience laughing.
In her debut performance at Gannon, Merski presented a sassy portrayal of Meg, oozing confidence and attitude. She packed a punch with a solid delivery of the selfish character.
While occasionally a bit too overpowering, Headley delivered a Lenny that felt relatable. Seemingly on the brink of a breakdown, Headly was able to capture chaos, sorrow and joy.
The three produced a sisterly dynamic full of bickering, laughter and entertainment. Rounding out the show were solid performances from Cassie Bielecki, Zach Hyman and Chase Miles.
While entertaining and hysterical, the Schuster Theatre’s production of “Crimes of the Heart” was guilty of a few crimes itself.
Dialogue was lost on more than one occasion throughout the show. Audience laughter masked some lines, while a few instances of over-acting left others completely inarticulate.
Set in the deep South, actors donned Southern accents, or at least attempted to. Some delivered accents that were consistent while others were barely recognizable.
The set was absolutely gorgeous and depicted the appropriate decade, complete with dated appliances, bright tile floors and even a rotary phone.
While this portion of the technical design was utterly impressive, the costuming seemed to be a hodge-podge of decades. Some characters looked straight out of the ‘50s while others would have fit into the ‘70s. Costume-wise I was a bit confused.
Looking past a few minor flaws, “Crimes of the Heart” provided a powerfully entertaining beginning for the Schuster Theatre’s season. A mixture of tragedy, comedy and strong performances makes this production a must-see.
“Crimes of the Heart” continues at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Admission for the general public is $5 and free for Gannon faculty, staff and students with a current form of identification.
Tickets for the show can be reserved by calling 814-871-7494 or online at www.gannon.edu/schustertheatre. The red reservation button is on the bottom of the page.

TAYLOR WOLFF
[email protected]