Elaine Liner
Mark Lowry
Margo Jones
Home ♦ Reviews ♦ Stage Whispers ♦ Features ♦ On the Boards ♦ Auditions ♦ Ask Armin ♦ Mark's Blog ♦ Elaine's Blog
Theater Jones

Love for Sale
Rover Dramawerks' revival of Albee's Everything in the Garden will have you forking over some green.
by Perry Stewart
Published Sunday, May 30, 2010

Carol M. Rice and Jarod Warren. Photo by Bill Justus.
Mary Tiner, Carol M. Rice and Jarod Warren. Photo by Bill Justus.
Carol M. Rice and Mary Tiner. Photo by Bill Justus.

Everything in the Garden
by  Edward Albee
Presented by Rover Dramawerks
May 20 - June 12
at Cox Building Playhouse
1517 H Avenue
Plano, TX 75074

8pm Thursdays-Saturdays; 2pm June 5
Runtime: Two and a half hours, with one intermission.
Bookmark and Share

Help yourself to floral imagery as Rover Dramawerks visits Everything in the Garden for the second time in a decade.

Edward Albee's thorny little immorality play blossoms under the hands of director Lisa Devine, a first-rate design team and a cast that is never less than competent and achieves occasional brilliance.

The action occurs in 1958 in Evil Suburbia, where Jenny and Richard are arguing, as usual, over money. They're plainly living beyond their means in that $40,000 home. And what a shame that Richard insists on serving imported vodka (at eight bucks a fifth!) to their rich friends. Jenny would like to take a part-time job. Richard says no. Then, like a reptile in Eden, the British-accented Mrs. Toothe arrives.

Why the accent? It underscores the character's "difference." And, more importantly, it's probably an homage that Albee directed at playwright Giles Cooper, whose original Everything in the Garden debuted in 1962 at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Albee's Americanized version came five years later.

Mrs. Toothe outlines how Jenny can solve her family's money problems. It's simple, really. Mrs. T. is the madam at the local brothel and, well, you get the idea. Jenny gets it, and she's outraged. Ah, but the English lady is not the villain here. It's Old Man Greed. In no time, Jenny is on board with the team.

Carol M. Rice and Jarod Warren, as Jenny and Richard, pursue a delicate balance, as Albee might put it, between comedy, tragedy and outright absurdity. Their acting skills are keen enough that you soon forget that they aren't a believable-looking couple. Matt Gunther, meanwhile, dominates every scene he's in as Jack, the fatalistic and often tipsy neighbor. It's a major stretch from Gunther's powerful portrayal of a grieving father in Rover's Rabbit Hole from earlier this year. Jack speaks to the audience as well as the other actors, and this device is superbly realized.

Mary Tiner speaks a bit too deliberately as Mrs. Toothe, but she conveys the required sinister quality.
The protagonists' country clubby friends arrive in the second act for a cocktail event that quickly turns into an orgy of oneupmanship and, eventually, takes a shockingly  unexpected turn.

Jenny's stiffly frocked and coiffed women friends look like they stepped out of the AMC show Mad Men. Costume designer Suzi Cranford is less kind, however, to the female lead. Only one of Rice's outfits is remotely flattering. (Was this a calculated move?)
Kimberly Corbett's set mirrors the period with more than a little help from prop designer Dona Safran. And sound designer Richard Frolich delivers just the right level of muted '50s music. He even reaches a bit farther back in time for the intre-act melody: the deliciously appropriate "Love for Sale."

A Night to Remember
Fort Worth Opera scores a major success with Before Night Falls.
It's Easy Being Green
Wicked flies high at Dallas Summer Musicals.
Broadway Redux
Turtle Creek Chorale kicks up its heels for a concert of showtunes.
Sea of Love
Review: The Dixie Swim Club makes a splash at Pocket Sandwich Theatre
Nookie Monsters
The furry and fleshy residents of Avenue Q learn little lessons in life. In turn, they teach us a thing or two.
Shooting Blanks
A five-minute sketch is stretched to the limit at Theatre Three.
Hell of a Show
Fort Worth Opera opens its 2010 Festival on a high note.
Elixir of Laughter
Fort Worth Opera has a big, hilarious hit with Donizetti’s comedy.
A New Frontier
Fort Worth's Ballet Frontier closes its first season with a bang, thanks to guest artists.
Magnificent Mahler
His Symphony No. 2 brings the Dallas Symphony season to a glorious close.
To Diet For
At the stupid-fun Food Fight, the target audience has a ball.
Tango and Sass
Dallas Black Dance Theatre closes its first season in the Wyly Theatre with a powerful showcase.
A Lotta Learnin' To Do
Two engaging shows at Dallas Children's Theater score bigtime.
Prairie Queen
Kara Lindsay as Laura is just one reason the Little House on the Prairie musical is worthwhile.
Pulitzer Pitches
Jennifer Higdon’s prize-winning concerto makes a splash with violinist Hilary Hahn at the Dallas Symphony.
Fathers and Daughters
The Dreamer Examines His Pillow and K. Lear at Dallas Hub Theater make an interesting pair.
You May Be Heated
Sundown Collaborative Theatre gets all Exit-stential, but this hell isn't hot enough.
Singers Save the Day
Performances in Dallas Opera's Madame Butterfly overcome the director's unwieldy concept.
A Song in Their Hearts
Voces Intimae goes Greek with a fantastic evening of song.

This section only
All sections

Results will be listed above