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'Marigolds' is a portrait of mom as monster

Jan 07 2012
Christine Dolen | Miami Herald

Laura Turnbull shines in Palm Beach Dramaworks' revival of a Pulitzer-winning play. Beatrice Hunsdorfer might not claim the title worst mom of all time – sadly, the world is never short of monstrous mothers – but she is definitely in the running. ... Playing Beatrice, as Carbonell Award winner Laura Turnbull is doing in Palm Beach Dramaworks' new production of Marigolds, is a real challenge; this is a woman, after all, with virtually no redeeming qualities. Yet as any actress who has portrayed Lady Macbeth or Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would attest, bringing a monster to life can be fascinating. Turnbull, who crafts a relentlessly fierce performance under the direction of William Hayes, is fearless in creating a woman who is largely the stuff of nightmares. If you have or had a loving, supportive mother, Turnbull's dream-crushing Beatrice will make you appreciate your good fortune that much more. Outgoing elder daughter Ruth (a luminous Skye Coyne) has already chalked up one nervous breakdown, likely having something to do with a mother who trades cigarettes for back rubs. Younger daughter Tillie (the radiant Arielle Hoffman, making an impressive professional debut), whose award-winning science project gives the play its clunky title, is a quiet dreamer... ...Dramaworks' artfully realized production, with lighting by Sean Dolan, costumes by Brian O'Keefe and sound by Steve Shapiro, is often difficult to watch, as the emotional pain Beatrice visits on the others is palpable. Yet anyone who appreciates grand performances will want to catch Turnbull's unflinching portrait of a monster. Hers is a masterful achievement.