By Jennifer L. Warren
Picture this: A Joan of Arc who hears voices, a sinister Susan B. Anthony, a slightly delusional Pearl White, a completely shrouded Queen Isabella of Spain, and how about an insane Amelia Earhart?
In total, eight popular, historical figures, portrayed as off balance (to put it mildly) interact in an insane asylum in Arthur Kopit’s one act dark comedy, “Crazy Ladies.” The venue, staged by Cabot and Company’s Young Company, is the latest entertainment inhabiting the City of Newburgh’s Railroad Playhouse, a non-profit arts organization aimed at the revitalization of its City.
As the play opens, we are treated to the physical and verbal antics amongst the entourage of intriguing characters, laden with embellished identities. Welcome to insanity!
We are introduced into one of the asylum’s rooms, where eight crazy ladies are engaging in their meeting, afforded one time every six years, to express grievances. Traces of lunacy abound. Whether it’s Joan of Arc (Heather Zoll), grasping at her hardware, exclaiming to the others, “It’s mine, and you can’t have it!” or Amelia Earhart (Evelyn Albino) repeatedly proclaiming her identity, while adding. “I’m not insane; I want to get the hell out of here- my plane is still out there that I crashed,” or an evil Susan B. Anthony, urging her female companions toward violence, while swinging her gavel, little order can be detected at the grievance gathering.
It appears Anthony and company’s sole thwart comes in the form of the plays’ only two men, both adorned in white coats.
After hearing some unruliness, the duo interfere in the ladies’ proceedings.
“If you girls don’t behave yourselves, you will never have another meeting again,” states the director Parsons. “All of the women who voted you in will lose your trust and hate you.” Rattling off a sinister laugh, Parsons, along with his authoritative partner in crime, exit, leaving a momentarily hushed room of ladies.
After more personal jeering transpires amongst the women, including the catchy, cruel phrase, “Joan of Ark died in the dark,” delivered by several characters, all in attendance deduce the male ward is on the attack, and something clearly needs to be done. “How do we know?” questions a doubting Earhart? “We simply know,” respond the other ladies, with Joan of Arc adding, “My voices have been telling me any day; it will all be over..” Soon after, Osa Johnson’s (Shelly Kornher) appeal for a counterattack, involving starvation, dehydration and blood-drinking, is denied, it’s Anthony who delivers the final solution.
“The clear thing to do is make sure there is no attack,” asserts the determined spearheader of the movement, Anthony. “We must make the men think we are stronger than we are; Ladies, we must….”
Her answer is met with a chant of madness and one that’s sure to surprise all in attendance.
Seasoned stage performer Goldee Greene portrays Queen Isabella of Spain. Cloaked and mute throughout virtually the entire one hour play, Greene delivers an emotionally-packed monologue centering upon the truth of Christopher Columbus, claiming his incentive for discovering the New World dealt with money and prestige more than anything else. His passion for his mission surfaces in Greene’s verbal revelations.
“It’s fun to be a firecracker for a few minutes and then just sit back and watch the mayhem that takes place,” said Greene. “This is an off-center comedy that really allows the audience to laugh. She added about her Cabot and Company’s Young Company cast, “All of the people I have worked with on this production are of the highest quality; it is just great to work with young people who are so talented, so impressive.”
Other “Crazy Ladies” cast members include; Ellen Pavloff as Mrs. Constance Mozart, MJ Foster as a stuttering Gertrude Stein, Samantha Gillespie as the stately Pearl White and A.J. Hankins as Parsons’ Assistant.
“We’re excited to have Cabot and Company’s Young Company back at the Playhouse,” said Railroad Playhouse Artistic Director Seth Soloway. “Their last show here, ‘Christie in Love’ is still one of our top success stories; the Company has proved that audiences will support strong, bold and original performances, exactly what the Railroad Playhouse is about.”