The season opener for the Denton Community Theatre PointBank Black Box 2014 series is a bit of a doozy.
The Edward Albee drama Three Tall Women is another Pulitzer Prize winner the local company has undertaken in its 2013-14 season. After closing a bruising but wonderful staging of August: Osage County, the company pushes its lens even further into the complicated dynamics of the American family.
Director Sharon Vaselic returned to push three formidable Denton actresses through an emotionally draining script. Jeannene Abney, Connie Lane and Kerri Peters play an unnamed woman at different phases of life.
Peters plays the woman at a dewy, bright-eyed 26, before romance turns into real-life marriage. Lane plays the protagonist at age 52, wiser but not necessarily sadder. Abney takes on the character past age 90. The heroine is a tall, patrician woman who wanted more than a woman was supposed to want before second-wave feminism deemed sexual freedom and personal agency as suitable for the goose as its always been for the gander.
Vaselic said it was her mother who urged her to direct Three Tall Women when the chance arose.
“The show toured through D.C.,” Vaselic said. “My mother got that script and brought it to me. She told me, ‘You’ve got to do this show. You’ve got to.’”
Vaselic said the play draws on Albee’s New England foster mother. Like the wordless son in Women, Albee left home at age 18, in part because his foster parents disapproved of his homosexuality.
“These gay men who write plays about women, I think they’re a little bit scared of them,” Vaselic said when talk turned to similarities between certain characters by Albee and one of his influences, playright Tennessee Williams.
Like August: Osage County, Three Tall Women is as funny as it is brutal. The story is about an affluent elderly woman in failing health. In the first act, she reminisces about the good times of her youth, and about the blows that come with marriage and motherhood. In the second half, the audience meets the woman in her youth, in her middle age and in the present.
Abney, Lane and Peters said the absorbing script has been a challenge. Abney has to work through the character’s doddering thoughts, and Lane and Peters have to take their cues from the disjointed memories.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the PointBank Black Box Theatre, 318 E. Hickory St. Rated R for adult themes.
Tickets cost $15. For tickets, visit www.dentoncommunitytheatre.com, call 940-382-1915, or visit the box office at the Campus Theatre, 214 W. Hickory St., between 1 and 5 p.m. weekdays.
LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877.