Kitchen Theatre’s Production of Frank Higgins’ new play has a dynamite first act. Lisa Gaye Dixon’s character is powerful, funny, threatening, wounded, depressed, heart-broken, sexy, furious and a lot more. Dixon hits all the notes in the first act set in a Texas prison for women during the depression.
Emily Dorche plays Susannah Mullally, a college-educated musicologist trying to save Pearl and her career at the same time.
Pearl’s incarceration prevents her from seeing her troubled daughter, a source of great anxiety for the mother who will do anything to save her child. Susannah goes to great lengths to free Pearl but is compromised by her own ambitions.
A tragedy with embedded song, the play is a distinctly American folk tale merged with liberal do-gooding and commercial greed: a perfect combination for strong drama and a microcosm of America.
The second act suffers from a weak script, which the actors successfully enliven.
This fine drama plays through Sunday December 22 at the Kitchen Theatre, 417 W. State / W. MLK, Jr. Street, Ithaca, New York 14850