OWNERS at Yale Repertory Theatre
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
British playwright, Caryl Churchill, had a lot to say about society, human relations and gender roles in her first play, “Owners,” currently on stage at Yale Repertory Theatre. The author of “Nine” and “Top Girls,” is recognized for tackling contemporary, philosophical issues in an unusual style. On the surface, much of her work seems to be silly, in your face humor. But, when you think about it more deeply, most of us are pulled along various paths in life, and along the way we learn to accept certain values without questioning why. In this play, Churchill questions the topic of ownership and the disastrous wants this can lead to. However, in this play, it seems that she has taken on too much at once.
Anthony Cochrane as Clegg, the butcher, wants to hand down his business to a son, only he doesn’t have one. Brenda Meaney as his wife, Marion, wants to be a real estate tycoon. Tommy Schrider plays her nebbish assistant, Worsely. He executes Marion’s evil wishes because he has no future prospects in life except suicide -- and even at that he is unsuccessful.
Marion wants to evict a very pregnant Lisa (Sarah Manton), her husband, Alec (Tommy Schrider) and his elderly Mum (Alex Trow) -- so she can make improvements to the property and charge more rent. She also wants to resume a former relationship with Alec and adopt Lisa and Alec’s baby. Lisa, a naïve hippy of the 60’s simply wants to stay in the apartment and is willing to give her baby up to Marion in return for her security while Alec, who seems to follow Buddhism has no material wants at all.
Designer Carmen Martinez’s nine scenes are set on two turn tables and includes mannequins that are spoken to and pushed around -- giving the play a cartoon like atmosphere. Outstanding were Marion’s high-fashioned dresses and Lisa’s hippy outfits by Seth Brodie. All of the actors give amusing and sometimes touching characterizations under the direction of Evan Yionoulis. After 2 1/2 hours of tedious point making, there is no “please all” conclusion to this play. And that’s the way life is, I suppose.
This review appears in “CT&NY Theatre” Nov/2013