100 Saints worth getting to know

100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

At Pacific Theatre until May 26 Tickets: 604.731.5518/www. pacifictheatre.org

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"There's no food in the fridge," "You told me you'd give me 10 bucks and you didn't," and "Why are you always on my case?"

Got teenagers? Sound familiar?

In 100 Saints You Should Know, Theresa (Rebecca deBoer) and her 16-year-old daughter Abby (Katherine Gauthier) are locked in a mortal embrace: single mother, one rebellious teenager and not enough money. It's a relationship that swings crazily between love and hate.

Theresa and Abby are part of a larger world that includes young Father McNally (Joel Stephanson), his mother Colleen (Kerri Norris) and young, grocery delivery boy Garrett (Chris Lam). There's strife in their worlds, too.

Anthony F. Ingram deftly directs on a stark white, multi-level set designed by Lauchlin Johnston.

Written by Kate Fodor, 100 Saints builds gradually to a crisis but seems to dissipate at the conclusion. While no one likes a too-tidy ending, the play seems to drift away; it lacks that 'Ah', that moment of recognition we long for in the theatre.

The performances, however, are absolutely terrific. DeBoer's Theresa is almost saintly and yet deBoer shows little scraps of playfulness, a little flirtiness that brings us so onside with her character.

Abby is the teenager from hell and Gauthier's performance is suspiciously right on. Been there? Done that?

Stephanson shows us the confusion and loneliness behind Father McNally's decency and Norris manages- just-to show that the intolerance McNally's mother exhibits, is really just fear.

The little oddball Garrett is appropriately awkward and innocently portrayed by Lam.

"Prayer is a surge of the heart, a cry of recognition and love" is a repeated line. 100 Saints You Should Know seems more about cries for recognition and love. Some-but not all-of those prayers might be answered. The performances are stellar and the play is good almost to the last drop.

GREY GARDENS-A NEW MUSICAL

At Jericho Arts Centre until May 19 Ti 604-224-8007/www. fightingchanceproducations.ca

Director Ryan Mooney was right: I went straight to Google to check it out.

Grey Gardens premiered off-Broadway in 2006. It was based on a 1975 documentary film, the subjects of which were Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, also Edith Bouvier Beale (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' aunt and first cousin respectively).

After being divorced by her husband, Big Edith remained in Grey Gardens, the Bouvier family mansion. Eventually Little Edie, not finding much success in New York in show biz, returned home where she and the old gal stayed until the very bitter, poverty-stricken end. When the health authorities were finally alerted, they discovered many cats, raccoons, no working plumbing and a 1,000 bags of garbage.

Act 1, director Mooney says, is conjecture; Act 2 is fact. Little Edie was never engaged to Joe Kennedy, former President John Kennedy's older brother, for example, and that's a pivotal part of the plot.

Fighting Chance Productions is a non-professional company known for pulling off big shows with little money. Mooney is not as successful here as he was, for example, in Sweeney Todd but if you liked Cathy Wilmot as Mrs. Lovett in that show, you'll be happy to see she's back. Casting her, however, as Big Edith in Act 1 and Little Edie in Act 2 is a finesse that doesn't make it although Wilmot has a great voice and potent stage presence. A treat-in a quirky sort of way-is Sue Sparlin who, in Act 2 is old, bedridden and bedraggled Big Edith.

Caitlin Hayes directs the lively five-piece orchestra. Grey Gardens is a little known piece of U.S. history but more to the point, it's an exploration of a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship that prompted me to tell a friend, "Shoot me if I ever turn into Big Edith."

joled@telus.net

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