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Albee's 'Tall' tale excels at Dramaworks

May 18 2010
John Thomason | Sun-Sentinel

Edward Albee can be a very cruel writer, but always honestly so, and his cruelty can take different forms. The action and dialogue in his 1994 play "Three Tall Women" may lack the venom-spitting meanness that characterized his most famous portraits of domestic estrangements, but this self-described autobiographical exorcism of his demons nonetheless presents his dying mother in quite an unflattering light. After alienating everyone with whom she was close, the 92-year-old woman is now chair- and bed-ridden, suffering from osteoporosis and Alzheimer's, unable to control her bowels. The lack of sympathy Albee feels toward the character is reportedly based on his own past; like the elderly woman's son in the play... But "Three Tall Women" is more than a long-repressed familial indictment; it's a metaphysical meditation on life, death and aging, a work as bold in form as it is in content." "After its run of Albee's "At Home at the Zoo" just last year, Palm Beach Dramaworks returns with this Pulitzer Prize winner, again making the most of its intimate space..." "...The set design, composed of antique French furniture donated by recently opened Lake Worth shop Paris Cope, gives the show a baroque opulence. The cast is headed by the astonishing Beth Dixon, a Broadway veteran, as the aged matriarch who, in Act One, dominates the dialogue with stories and regrets from her abandoned life. Angie Radosh plays her infinitely patient, middle-aged caregiver, and Geneva Rae plays the smug, cynical 26-year-old legal representative following up on the elderly woman's many neglected payments. Once you're attuned to the unconditional rhythms of "Three Tall Women," Albee's most personal play becomes a rich, rewarding and profoundly soul-plumbing experience. It's justifiably considered one of his very best and, despite the cruelty of which it was borne, most compassionate works.