Chaos Attraction

Crimes of the Heart

2018-08-17, 10:44 p.m.

I went to go see Crimes of the Heart tonight, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Beth Henley, or as I’ve heard of her, “Stephen Tobolowsky’s college girlfriend from The Toblowsky Files.” Uh-huh.

Anyway: the three Southern McGrath sisters reuinte upon the occasion of one of them shooting her husband.

It’s October 23, oldest sister Lenny’s 30th birthday. Her dad ran off and her mother hung herself (and the cat) when the girls were young, so they were raised by their grandparents. Now they seem left with “Old Grandaddy,” who’s in the hospital and Lenny is the live-in child taking care of him. As this review points out:

“He is the one who chooses each girl’s future. Babe, the youngest, will marry the rich Zachery Botrelle, and “skyrocket right to the heights of Hazelhurst society.” (whether she likes it or not) Meg, wild, selfish, and promiscuous, is encouraged to take her singing talent to Hollywood. As she fails and flails, he buys in to her years of lies and she is afraid to disappoint him. And Lenny, the eldest, is told that she has a “shrunken ovary,” can’t have children, and therefore couldn’t possibly be of any interest to any man. This mean and baseless explanation grooms Lenny to be the old maid sister who becomes Old Granddaddy’s housekeeper and caretaker."

We eventually find out that Lenny had a boyfriend and after taking him to meet Old Grandaddy, immediately broke up with him. GEE, I WONDER IF OLD GRANDDADDY HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT.

Poor Lenny’s birthday is forgotten in all of this--the only one that remembered is her prissy Junior League southern bitch cousin Chick, who gave her what is apparently an old box of assorted cremes. Lenny doesn’t even get to eat them because Meg takes a bite of every one and then puts them back in the box, and when asked about it, claims she was looking for the nuts. IT SAYS ASSORTED CREMES ON THE BOX, MEG. Oh yeah, and her horse got struck by lightning and died last night. I am Lenny in some respects.

Meg is the family singer, who notoriously refused to evacuate with her boyfriend “Doc” (note: not an actual doctor since he bailed on that life plan) during a hurricane, and then his leg got damaged when the roof fell in. Meg immediately fled to California, where she’s had a secret nervous breakdown (there’s reasons why she didn’t come home for Christmas) and hasn’t been able to sing since. She’s a rare favorite middle child due to the singing and Old Granddaddy expects a lot out of her. She also shows up (in this show) in cowboy boots, a hippie dress, a yarn vest and a cowboy-ish hat, showing up as the first cowboy hippie I have ever seen in my LIFE. She is also constantly drinking something and when she offers to get Lenny a Coke, opens it herself and drinks half of it before handing it to Lenny. She’s that sort of girl.

And then there’s Babe, the one who shot her husband. While her husband is a rich Senator and abusive asshole (apparently he has beat the shit out of her, though Babe won’t really talk about it, but I guess she thinks prison sounds great since she won’t have to live with him or put up with his nosy sister), she was caught having an affair with a 15-year-old black boy in the South. After she shot him, she made herself some lemonade, chugged three glasses, then went back out to the living room and offered her husband some before realizing that since he was bleeding on the floor, maybe he wasn’t in the mood. Coke, then?

Toward the end of the show when her husband tells her he’s going to have her locked up in the insane asylum, I’m kinda like “well, honey, you really aren’t that sane, it’s kinda hard to argue this point.” I said this to my mother (who wasn’t as into the show) and she was all, “They ALL need therapy.” I was all, “I agree, but Babe needs to be seeing somebody at least twice a week.”

The other characters are:

* The aforementioned Chick, a prissy snob who really can’t stand Meg and vaguely attempts to be helpful to Lenny in an annoying way, and loves to rub in the family scandals.
* The aforementioned Doc, one of those dudes who barely speaks but wants to meet up with Meg again even though he’s married with two kids, for closure, I guess. I find it hard to be interested in men who don’t talk, btw.
* Barnette Lloyd, Babe’s lawyer: green but smart, who wants the case because (a) he met Babe once and likes her, and (b) he has a vendetta against her husband for destroying his dad’s life. Barnette seems like a nice fellow but hell if I know how he’s going to deal with this pickle, especially once the husband points out he’s got Polaroids of Babe’s cheating.

Anyway, the resolutions in this play vary:

* Lenny finally gets up the courage to call her ex and ask to see him again and explains why she suddenly dumped him. From what we can tell, he seems fine with that. Also, she grabs a broom and chases the obnoxious Chick out of the house. Also, since Old Granddaddy might die soon--he ends the show in a coma-- hey, there’s some potential for freedom!

* Meg goes out all night with Doc to drink and “look at the moon,” which she seems to think is going to lead to sex but doesn’t--I guess he wasn’t THAT interested--but she sang all night and I guess feels better? This was a bit out of “erm, okay, I guess...” field. When she last saw Old Granddaddy she told him all this BS about how she was going to be in a movie/have an album/be on the Tonight Show (Lenny was pissed), but upon returning is all, “I’m gonna tell him the truth, I don’t care if it puts him in a coma!” The other two girls, having been up all night at the hospital, bust up laughing at this.

* After Babe finds out her husband is going to send her to the insane asylum, she first tries to hang herself offstage, then when that doesn’t work, sticks her head in the oven and thus has a revelation about why her mom killed the cat--she doesn’t want to die alone. Babe is the most concerning here because the girl’s 24, has a few screws loose, and sounds very, very fucked. Either she’s going to jail or the insane asylum and I don’t think Barnette can totally save her from either of those things.

In the end, Meg and Babe order a belated birthday cake for Lenny and they all celebrate together. Moral of the story, I guess, is enjoy the small moments before your sister goes to jail.

This sounds bad, but I enjoyed it. The actresses were a hoot (particularly Lenny, and Babe’s expressions a lot of the time). It is very funny as well as dramatic. If this sounds intriguing to you, apparently it’s online.

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