Abundance -- Hardship, Adventure and More on the Frontier
By Karen Isaacs
Hartford Stage is presenting a fine production of Abundance, which combines elements of the "girl friend" story with an almost surreal picture of life on the American frontier.
Abundance tells the story of two mail-order brides on the American frontier and their 25 year history that includes changing fortunes, and various adventures. When they start out, Macon, played brilliantly be by Brenda Withers, is the more confident one, looking at her arrival at the frontier to marry a man she has never met as just the beginning of an adventure to see the world. When she arrives, Bess, played equally well by Monique Vukovic, has been waiting for days for her soon-to-be husband to arrive. She is more unsure and much less independent.
From that initial meeting their lives and fortunes take a variety of turns -- from success to poverty to experiences beyond their wildest imaginations. As their situations change, we discover different aspects of their personalities -- both are in fact survivors. Yet the act surviving changes both of them in unexpected ways -- Bess goes from a seemingly docile lamb to a tiger and Macon shows weaknesses that make us question her judgment.
Besides the stellar work of the two women, they are joined Kevin Kelly as Macon's husband and James Knight as Beth's. Director Jenn Thompson provides a deft and sensitive hand in telling the story and she is aided by the adaptable set that suggests the various locations.
This is truly an excellent production which deserves your attention. There are moments of laughter and moments of drama and surprise.
Abundance is at Hartford Stage through April 28.
This review aired on WNHU, 88.7 fm.