Theater review: Company One’s ‘Splendor’ doesn’t quite live up to its name

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“Splendor” began as “Thanksgiving,” a blisteringly funny short about three women talking trash in the waiting room of a Boston-area ballet school.

The riotous tale was so well-received as part of Company One’s 2010 production “GRIMM” that playwright Kirsten Greenidge expanded it into a two-and-a-half hour story spotlighting the unseen fourth woman about whom most of the trash was being talked. While this may have seemed like a good idea at its conception, its realization, sadly, is a convoluted mish-mash of sub-plots that lack both the depth and drama to sustain a full-length play.

Every one-dimensional cliche about working-class people in the Boston area is employed in this listless tale of an educated, successful bi-racial woman’s puzzling return to a town that ostracized her in high school. Apparently, she initiated the change of the school mascot from the Chiefs to the Trojans, out of respect to Native Americans, an odd precursor to the downward life spiral the other women experience.

The script isn’t the only trouble with “Splendor.” Director Shawn LaCount employs arena seating with mixed results. Becca Lewis, one of Boston’s finest character actors, has her back to one section for most of the show. When she finally moves, a pole blocks that same section from viewing her. Lewis’ facial expressions are priceless — but only if you can see them.

The actors play characters over a span of decades, but their physical aging is distractingly inconsistent. While the suspension of disbelief is the nature of live theater, some of the leaps we’re asked to take teeter too closely to implausible.

A silver lining gleams in the performances of Molly Kimmerling (Nicole Gazza Mahoney) and Alexandria King (Fran Giosa). Alas, great acting isn’t always enough.

If you go

‘Splendor’
Through November 16
BCA Plaza Theatre
539 Tremont St., Boston
$20 – $38 ($20 on Wild Wednesday)
617-933-8600
CompanyOne.org


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