Arts & Leisure

Dark irony, well-done with “Eve” at WCP

THE CAST of "The Wisdom of Eve," now on stage at the Westminster Community Playhouse (WCP photo).

THE CAST of “The Wisdom of Eve,” now on stage at the Westminster Community Playhouse through Feb. 12 (WCP photo).

 

By Thom deMartino

Sooner or later, what comes around goes around: and sometimes, we even cultivate the seeds of our own downfall – a dark irony.

stagereviewbugIn “The Wisdom of Eve,” now playing at the Westminster Community Playhouse, renowned actress Margo Crane (Darri Kristin) has reached the pinnacle of success on the 1960’s Broadway stage: beloved by fans, catered to by her own playwright, Lloyd Roberts (Shane Cervantes) and his wife, Karen (Maria O’Connor), and managed by her loving and devoted husband Clement Howell (Greg Stokes). But the specter of age is beginning to haunt the beautiful and haughty star, leading her to insist on the absence of ingenues in her productions, for fear of them upstaging her.

That is, until along comes Eve Harrington (Meredith Culp), a driven young woman who waits nightly after the show, ever hoping for just the slightest glimpse of Margo. Catching the sympathetic Karen outside the stage door and pleading for an introduction to her idol, Eve soon finds herself in the presence of her inspiration, who discovers herself touched by the story of the younger woman’s tribulations and her devotion to Margo’s art. Taking the girl under her wing, the celebrated actress makes Eve her secretary and dresser, never suspecting she has become complicit in her own eventual overthrow of her Broadway throne.

The cancerous progression of Eve’s coup is creeping, subtle: a “friendly” ear to listen to Margo’s laments, as well as those of her friends who feel increasingly taken for granted by the star; being at the right place at the right time to drop a comment or tip to motivate the pawns in her game, such as tabloid writer Tessa “Tally-Ho” Thompson (Heather Starr); and using her feminine wiles to persuade pivotal crew members — such as married director Harvey Marshall (Joseph Spurgeon) — to assist in her theatrical ascension.

But change is both inescapable and undeniable, and while Eve may be approaching her zenith, it is only a matter of time before the wheel spins once again…

The Westminster Community Playhouse has been producing some excellent works throughout their 2016 – 2017 season, and “The Wisdom of Eve” is still another example.

The play is a meditation on ageism in our culture, perhaps even plumbing the depths of betrayal and treachery capable within the human heart. “Eve” illustrates the blind spots between generations: the mature denigrating and dismissing the younger as being without merit or agency, with the young patronizing those more seasoned as outdated and irrelevant.

greatmovielogoKristin’s Margo could just be a two-dimensional “woman you love to hate,” but she instead emotes the vulnerability and the desperate false bravado of a talented but fading star who knows, yet can’t accept, that her time in the spotlight is slipping away. O’Connor’s conflicted Karen — torn between her love and resentment for her friend — serves as an emotional anchor for the play, as the audience is privy both to her devotion to husband Lloyd and his bruised artistic integrity (demonstrated in a fiery performance by Cervantes), as well as her selfless desire to help the seemingly wounded little bird that is Eve (played with persuasive obsession/feigned innocence by Culp.)

“Fame is definitely fleeting, very much so,” says O’Connor, when asked about the lessons of the play. “When you think you are the flame of that candle, that flame is such a short-lived thing… talent is forever: beauty just fades. Just don’t take it for granted: there’s always going to be another person there to step in.

“There will always be an ‘Eve Harrington.'”

A tale of fame, friendships and falsehoods, that is as relevant as it is timeless, “The Wisdom of Eve” is entertaining and thought-provoking: an intriguing reflection on the often treacherous cycle of stardom.

“The Wisdom of Eve.” Meredith Culp, Darri Kristin and Maria O’Connor star in this story of the pinnacles and pitfalls of fame. Playing Fridays and Saturdays (with some Sunday matinees) through Feb. 12 at the Westminster Community Playhouse, 7272 Maple St, Westminster, CA 92683. Ticketing information available online at http://www.wctstage.org, or call (714) 893-8626.

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