THE INSANITY OF MARY GIRARD
Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
Lanie Robertson's 70s piece is a fictionalized treatment of a true story; the message, as so often, is that people in the past [18th century Philadelphia] had much to learn from their more civilised descendants. Not much of a basis for history, but it does make for a powerfully dramatic polemic. An unstable woman is incarcerated in an asylum, purely on the word of her husband, who, she says, is threatened by her love of life and the freedom of her mind.
A challenging piece, not without its longueurs, but when taut writing and physicality come together, as in the Prayer/Key sequence, it is exciting, dangerous theatre.
Well served by a fine, mostly young, company, working hard to keep the impetus alive, with poor Mary played intelligently, touchingly, without histrionics, by Hayley Kemp, making her CTW début in this rare revival. The piece ends, provocatively, with her returning to the chair, embracing her fate, eagerly awaiting the Sabbath spectators as the church bells peal out in the darkness.
The Assistant Director was Danny Segeth, with Catherine Hitchins as Movement Consultant.
upper-arm tattoo of the Tranquillizing Chair by Jeff Johnson