Lobster Alice

You may have a hard time You may have a hard time imagining Walt Disney being involved with the wacky and inspired creations of surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Yet they did join forces, back in the 1940s, and that odd but real partnership is the subject of the thoroughly entertaining and endearingly bizarre Lobster Alice by Kira Obolensky, now at convergence-continuum. Dali was hired by the Disney studios to create a brief film based on the haunting love song "Destino" by the Mexican composer Armando Dominguez. And playwright Obolensky imagines this eight-month (here shrunk to a six-week) collaboration: the dramatic and outré Dali joining forces with the talented yet buttoned-up lead animator on the project, John Finch. The play revolves around Dali, Finch, and Finch's assistant, Alice Horowitz. She is peeved by Finch's pinched attempts at igniting a relationship and longs for the rampant passion that Dali exudes from every pore. Whether discussing the movements of a jellyfish or dragging a couch into the studio from a suddenly opened wall, the players maintain solid character arcs so the audience can relax and enjoy this flight of fancy. As Dali, Grey Cross overcomes moments of stiffness to deliver a humorous yet oddly respectful portrait of this artist and provocateur. After a wobbly start, Sarah Maria Hess fast becomes an adorable foil as Alice, a woman yearning for connection and willing to do darn near anything to get it. Fortunately, Tim Coles is on stage most of the time, providing a solid hub for this wild carousel. Director Clyde Simon ties it all together by maintaining a light tone and orchestrating some amazing special effects. At the end, you may, indeed, feel like Alice at the end of the play when she swoons, "You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair." (Christine Howey)

Through April 5 at The Liminis, 2438 Scranton Rd., Tremont,

216-687-0074, convergence- continuum.org.

'night Mother

Contrary to the lyric in the theme song for the movie M*A*S*H, suicide isn't always painless. In fact, the pain is often profound for the friends and loved ones who are left behind, especially since many suicides happen in private and are therefore mysterious and agonizing. Not so for the impending tragedy that sits at the center of 'night Mother by Marsha Norman, now at Beck Center. This suicide-in-progress is announced early on by the 40-ish Jessie, who tells her mother Thelma that she plans to use the gun she found in the attic to do the deed. This news comes as a shock to Thelma, even though she's aware of her daughter's spiraling life: recently divorced, saddled with a grown son who's a petty thief, unable to work due to her epileptic seizures (or "fits," as Thelma calls them). This Pulitzer Prize winning play is an almost perfectly structured work, spare in its language and devastating in its unavoidable conclusion. Therefore, it is a splendid playground for two talented actors such as Laura Perrotta and Dorothy Silver. The rigidly contained Perrotta is magnificent in portraying Jessie as a woman with no future left, shuffling and speaking in a dull monotone. In the challenging role of Thelma, the renowned Dorothy Silver finds many of the darkly humorous moments in the play and lands them solidly. Playwright Norman's script is a perfect GPS device for locating loneliness and depression, no "recalculating" required. And this production delivers the audience to that destination with harrowing assurance. (Howey)

Through May 4 at Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-2540, beckcenter.org.

About The Author

Christine Howey

Christine Howey has been reviewing theater since 1997, first at Cleveland Free Times and then for other publications including City Pages in Minneapolis, MN and The Plain Dealer. Her blog, Rave and Pan, also features her play reviews. Christine is a former stage actor and director, primarily at Dobama Theatre...
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