Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

           Clio Cast and Crew decided to put warmth in our long winter with a production of Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley. The play was well done and very enjoyable. One of the interesting aspects of this production is that everyone including the director was making their debut at Clio. They bring a great deal of talent and energy to the stage.

Beth Henley’s play, Crimes of the Heart, won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Best American Play in 1981. Henley writes about small town values and family love. She is a playwright and screenwriter. Her family was an inspiration for the play.

Crimes of the Heart deals with three sisters in a Mississippi town trying to deal with a series of issues that all come together over a couple of days. It’s Lennie’s 30th birthday and her sisters are coming home because their grandfather is extremely ill in the hospital. Each sister has issues they are dealing with.

Those of us with siblings can relate to the quirks and idiosyncrasies of our siblings. Not everything is fun and games, and the past is never far from the surface.

Sunday’s matinee started a little slow, but picked up and remained energetic.

Taylor Ackerman plays Lenny Magrath the older sister who stayed home to keep things together. Ackerman portrayed the frumpy Lennie quite well. She could have been a little louder at different places. She was believable in the role as the oldest and the caretaker of everyone and the home. That didn’t appear to be an easy job. In the end, she found happiness.

Jenn McLincha plays Chick Boyle, a cousin, who is a pain in the butt. McLincha comes on stage and engages Lennie while removing and putting on panty hose and jabbering away. Nobody likes her because she is quite opinionated. McLincha should have slowed down just a tad especially in the beginning. She did a good job as a busybody who considered everyone to be Christmas trash. She fit right in with the craziness taking place around her.

Jessica Smith plays Meg Magrath, the middle daughter. She left home to pursue a singing career that went nowhere. She returned to several unresolved problems. She was believable as the dreamer of the family.

Smith gave a good performance with the exception of the cigarette. The cigarette wasn’t realistic and E-Cigarettes didn’t exist then. It was too long, and Smith appeared uncomfortable handling it.

Stephanie Mitch plays Babe Botrelle, the wild child. Mitch does an outstanding job with this character. Her monologues were a joy to watch. She was truly the wild child of the family. She shoots her husband because she can’t stand his voice or his looks, and now she is in trouble. Mitch moved around the stage barefoot with ease and great energy. Any male who came near her has no chance of escaping.

The women are well matched and have a lot of chemistry. Reminded me of a number of families I know. They even kept the Southern accents throughout the play.

Jacob Johnson plays Doc Porter, Meg’s former boyfriend. He carries off the limp believably. Meg is responsible for his disability. Johnson did a good job even if he was a bit quiet. Alexander Willett plays Barnette Lloyd, the attorney who is going to save Babe. He falls for Babe and he came across sincerely.

Audience etiquette was a little lacking Sunday. A group behind me talked through part of Act I. Unfortunately this distracted from the good performance on stage. People who came in quite late were noisy.   Clio Cast and Crew announced that no flash pictures were to be taken. They should have included cell phones. Throughout the last act patrons in front of me kept taking pictures, and cell phone cameras give off a light. It was distracting and quite rude.

Crimes of the Heart is a good production. The set was well done and reflected the youth of the actors in a different period. The director, Katherine Mizell, did a good job for her first play. The play flowed with energy and there was a lot of laughter throughout.

I recommend Crimes of the Heart for all audiences. Clio Cast & Crew put together a sound production. Help their cause when you are there and buy raffle tickets. I did and for the first time ever at a play, I won the raffle.

Crimes of the Heart is being performed at Clio Cast & Crew’s Home, Studio 57, 2220 W. Vienna Rd., Clio MI, 48420. Remaining performances: February 13, 14 at 7:30 pm, and February 15 at 2pm. For tickets call 810-687-2588.



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