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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Laberge

Crimes of the Heart - A familiar and warm family in dark circumstances

Grandpa is in the hospital, Meg is home with a failed singing career, it’s Lenny’s birthday… Oh, and Babe has shot her husband. Just a little.

Crimes of the Heart runs at SummerStage of Delafield through September 4th. Directed by Kelly Goeller, the story follows the three Magrath sisters as they navigate life’s unexpected traumas, and as sisters are like to do, cope with a healthy dose of humor.

Abbi Minnesalle, Madison Penzkover, and Brigid O'Brien. All photos courtesy of George Katsekes.

The show gets off to a slow start, but the stage bursts with life upon the arrival of Meg (Abbi Minnesalle). She fills the space with contagious energy that carries the show. Minnesalle projects a confidence as Meg that not-so-subtly hides a fragile interior.

Madison Penzkover plays the indicted Babe. Her performance is nothing short of masterful. She frenzies the stage with the mania of a woman on the precipice between true freedom and ultimate loss of it. Then, as the plot churns forward, her surmounting desperation opens into beautiful vulnerability.

Logan Milway and Madison Penzkover.

In between these heavy moments, there is a growing flirtation between Babe and her lawyer, Barnette Lloyd (Logan Milway). Milway as Barnette is charming in a delightfully bumbling way. He flips back and forth between a passionate – albeit a touch intense – lawyer and a bashful beau. His interest in Babe is riddled with respect and boundaries, rather than preying on a sensitive subject.

Costume designer Sharon Sohner elevates the show monumentally. She gives a taste of the mid-20th century without a dash of caricature, which can be very challenging for an era piece. By mixing in pieces reminiscent of the 50s through the 70s, the ensemble resembles real life, in which we are always mixing bits of fashion that is new and old, out of style and of the moment. While it is impossible to completely nail down the exact year of the show, the visuals give a perfect sense of the world of the play.

SummerStage of Delafield.

The script itself, written by Beth Henley, does a brilliant job of presenting sibling banter in a realistic manner. Small arguments centered around miniscule missteps erupt into major fights about the issues that lie beneath. Her writing does fall into some tropes of contemporary theatre, and in doing so, places final emphasis on emotional conclusion rather than the actual resolution of plot.

The characters in Crimes of the Heart, despite experiencing extenuating circumstances themselves, are tender and relatable. Director Kelly Goeller balances joy and turmoil in the ups and downs of the story, navigating very real family conversations in a dated, yet all too relevant, world.



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