Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

What We May Be
Berkshire Theatre Group
Review by Fred Sokol | Season Schedule (updated)

Also see Zander's reviews of Cabaret and Spamilton: An American Parody


Penny Fuller
Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware
What We May Be, by Kathleen Clark, continues its world premier production at Berkshire Theatre Group through August 31st and fits well within the context of a summer season. It takes a portion of its 90-minute running time to congeal as the opening is confusing. The show does feature a wondrous performance by Penny Fuller, who at age 79, brings the ultimate in poise and presence to her role.

A theater is about to shut its doors after half a century and Lucinda Royal Scott has acted and directed throughout. She is temporarily unaware, however, of just what is happening. Carson Elrod plays Glen Geer, a director, while Dee Hoty embodies Joan Stern and actor Count Stovall is a prominent performer named Hal Polick. Fuller and Stovall have some touching moments late in the production. Rounding out the cast of characters are Colleen Haran (Carla Duren), who is relatively new to the troupe, and the ostensible stage manager Summer Oliver, played by Samantha Hill.

Clark's text includes four mini-plays (one acts) within the overall work. Each pretty much addresses getting older, with some of the scenes being crisper than others. Gregg Edelman directs the piece and has the task of coaxing enthusiasm into it all. His actors are most engaging during the last sequence.

During the first two thirds of the production, Clark's dialogue is informational. For example, we learn that Glen, who lives alone, is the current president of the company. Hal has been a heart physician. The role of Joan doesn't provide Dee Hoty with much to do or say during initial portions of the play. Summer Oliver, who has been cast as Cosette in a Broadway production of Les Misérables, has the most lines, allowing for a more spirited portrayal, and the youthful Hill delivers.

The very beginning of the evening finds Fuller's Lucinda, eldest member of the organization and oftentimes a producer, asleep on a couch. No one can tell if she'll rouse to make the opening curtain. When finally up and energized, however, she is, more or less, a star throughout. It seems that the organization, Hill Little Theater, did this show some years before. Now, its building is to come down as apartments are constructed.

In the four mini-plays, the second vignette features Henry (Carson Elrod/Glen Geer) with his mother Mary (Fuller/Lucinda) at a conference for writers in Alaska. Slated to give an address, Mary is unsure but then does quite well with it. The first and third components cannot measure up to the finale, where playwright Clark provides something special. At a community college, Val (Hoty, at last given a nice performance opportunity) has just one student in class and Samantha Hill plays that young woman, who is named Nicole. Jane Sharp (Fuller) appears and Nicole implores Val to be allowed to present her memoir to Jane. Val, who is weary and wary, finally agrees. What follows is distinctive, lovely theater.

Throughout, Penny Fuller shines. She first appeared on Broadway in Barefoot in the Park and later in Cabaret, Applause (Tony nomination), The Dinner Party (Tony nomination), three Shakespeare in the Park productions, and much more. She was nominated for six TV Emmy Awards and is a cabaret singer. Her comfort and capability levels are proof that there seems to be no other place Penny Fuller would rather be (at this time) than in front of an audience. She is both adept and gracious on stage. Whether Clark's script calls for wistful or eager, Fuller obliges. It is a pleasure to watch this actress at work.

Kathleen Clark's writing voice is, at times clear, and her dialogue rings true. The show, though, needs further tending. It has a place and is still evolving before reaching full promise.

What We May Be, through August 31, 2019, at Berkshire Theatre Group, 6 East St., Stockbridge MA. For tickets, call 413-997-4444 or visit www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.


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