Both sisters work in a downtown
Los Angeles loft, their home as well as the office of Grapevine Public
Relations. They run Grapevine successfully, and care for their suffering
mother at the same time. Harmony prevails until they discover that scientists
have come up with a test for HD, so now they may learn for sure whether
or not they will one day share their mother’s fate. Do they take the test
or not? Could one of them, or both, have this dance of death?
Under Jules Aaron’s adroit direction a splendid cast has been assembled. Could I Have This Dance? sparkles like fine champagne, but never intoxicates — though most people who see it will feel happy for hours after they leave the theatre. For in addition to its humanity, it is a damn funny play.
Toni Sawyer as Jeannette Glendenning, the mother with HD, is one of the most poignant mothers in modern drama since The Glass Menagerie, and she accomplishes everything without a word of dialogue. The effort to communicate is so difficult for her that it forces her to find a means of expressing herself closer to, well, dance than anything else.
Elizabeth Norment (Monica) plays the bossy sister who cannot stop planning other people’s lives even when office hours are over. Norment is quite extraordinary in the role.
John Bluto (Hank) assays the father of the family. His heavy bit bracing mixture of compassion and irritation goes a long way to set him apart from more conventional would-be masters of the art of raising a family.
Bonita Friedericy (Amanda) portrays the younger sister who has had just about enough of the confining quarters of her existence. After all, she is too spirited to stay at her home/office say and night like a filly penned in the front yard.
Gil Johnson (Errol) is the classic young American go-getter with a sense of humor. Johnson has the ability to jump back into your affections just as you are about to dismiss him.
Finally, Robert Stoeckle (Colin) turns the part of a splendid photographer and frightened lover into something of a tour de force. He is every man who has ever balked at commitment; and he is stuck on a woman who does not know whether or not she will be alive at 50. It is a dilemma he cannot, despite himself, refuse.
The ensemble quality of the acting is another tribute to Jules Aaron’s skillful guidance. The ultimate power of Could I Have This Dance?, though, for all the exceptional work of this gifted company, rests in Doug Haverty’s considerable skill as a playwright.
Susan Gratch’s set design
is completely convincing, and filled with fresh air even though it is an
interior. Michael Gillman’s lighting design is never the same for two scenes
in a row, yet is so subtle one is never aware of his scheme. Fontella Boone’s
costume design is magical; her characters look as nice half-dressed as
fully clothed, but best of all, they do not look as if they were wearing
designs at all. Credit Tom Rinckner’s sound design for capping the illusion
that we are watching the real world. And assistant Richard L. Pedersen
as well as technical director Hap Lawrence have also made significant contributions
so that this extraordinarily good production remains extraordinary from
first moment to last.
Copyright 1991, Drama-Logue