By: Walter Ruff
If We Were Women currently at the former Living Stage space is an overly wordy story of three generations of women spending a leisurely day at a Connecticut beach house — we suffer through moaning, groaning and discussions of who had the more primitive method of dealing with menstruation. Jess (Lynn Steinmetz) is mourning her just passed lover and is comforted by her mother (Jewell Robinson) and her former mother in law (June Hansen) while she frets about her teenage daughter (Sarah Fischer) who failed to come home from a dance the night before. More than anything this is Canadian playwright Joanna McClelland Glass’ vision of the age old story “You always become your mother”.
A talented cast can always be expected from The Washington Stage Guild — this production does not disappoint. Jewell Robinson is an educated, well-to-do grandmother from Connecticut who loves the good life, the world of the arts and her place in society. She shines in this role, her performance is a pleasure to watch. June Hansen is fiery and witty as a home grown grandma who because of life’s circumstance did not get the same chances in life as Jewell Robinson’s character. With only a second grade education she has lived a proud life but has become somewhat anguished as she recalls her failures in years past. Her story recalling how she missed getting her diploma because the horse pulling their wagon froze in the cold brought back memories of my father’s stories of fifteen mile walks to school. Lynn Steinmetz as Jess is stressed and anxious about the death of her significant other but I was left feeling that the performance was over the top. She rails and rants with little provocation as if she had other problems we are not aware of. Sarah Fischer as the granddaughter is handed the weakest part and she does a fine job of making the most of the character.
Tracie Duncan’s set design is a mix of pastel colors and sea worn planks — a windblown backdrop of pinks and grays is visually calming, maybe overly so. The overall feel is somber and my impression is that a more colorful, bright set would have been more satisfying. The rest of the production design was flawless.
The acting is superb and for the most part the production is enjoyable. If We Are Women just does not excite or ask any important questions of us – it is what it is, a few overcast days at the beach.
Cast: Sarah Fischer, June Hansen, Jewell Robinson, Lynn Steinmetz.