Divagations With Music

Living in the pastiche: Are the strong, dotty women of Grey Gardens the real Beale?

Cage songs: Ebersole as Little Edie
photo: Joan Marcus
Cage songs: Ebersole as Little Edie


Grey Gardens
By Doug Wright, Michael Korie, and Scott Frankel
Playwrights Horizons
416 West 42nd Street

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  • All the more praise, then, to Michael Greif's production, which has given the loosely linked material a sense of unity, much helped by Allen Moyer's shadowy, gliding set and Peter Kaczorowski's subtly shadowy lighting. (William Ivey Long's genius for costuming this world is too well-known to require praise.) With one exception—Sara Gettelfinger, whose coarse manner and off-key belting as Act I's Little Edie are hopelessly out of place—the cast is seamlessly first-rate. Bob Stillman, Michael Potts, Matt Cavenaugh, and most of all Mary Louise Wilson, as Act II's 80-year-old Big Edie, make especially sterling contributions. And Christine Ebersole's double triumph is sheer staggering magic: She plays both Act I's Big Edie, a Billie Burke matron with sour milk and Tabasco added, and Act II's frumpy, dotty, desperate Little Edie, a Beckettian tramp weirdly compelled to sing show tunes. When her transcendent energy's switched on, Grey Gardens seems a perfect musical.

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