The Queens are Golden
The Ivoryton Playhouse is very bravely presenting “The Queens of the Golden Mask,” which risks being offensive or hard-to-watch for audience members. This show is important because it gives an understanding of how seemingly good people could be a part of something so terrible. In order to communicate with people in our time where communication is so vital, one must have an understanding of both sides and different perspectives. Artistic and Executive director of the Ivoryton Playhouse, and the director of this production, Jacqueline Hubbard says that this show is a “catalyst for conversation.” She does an excellent job directing this show, really understanding the harshness and yet delicate subject matter.
In the uncomfortably hot summer of 1961 in Celestial, Alabama, we are greeted with women entering into the house of Ida Sage, also known as “Moma,” (Ellen Barry), bringing in all sorts of sweets to prepare for the visitation of Rose Jackson (Anna Fagan). Rose has just married a southern man and is coming to Alabama from her hometown, Ohio, to meet everyone. Upon arrival she discovers that these women are a part of the Women’s auxiliary of the KKK, “The Queens of the Golden Mask.” The women end up pressuring Rose into joining them, making her believe that she would not be involved in any violent acts.
Act 1 has way too much dialogue that is not even necessary exposition. A lot of it could be shortened and be more to the point. Hubbard beautifully represents the relationships of the characters through physical movement and attitudes towards each other, so that a lot of the dialogue was just dragging the play out.
Elizabeth A. Saylor is very successful in her costume design. She dresses everyone in very appropriate outfits for the time period and each character’s persona. Rose is dressed very prim and proper, Ida wears outfits that are believable for her age, and everyone’s outfits really match their personalities.
This show is extremely powerful in eliciting emotion, which is one of the most incredible things that theater has the ability to do. The end of Act 1 ends on a rather shocking note with some triggering imagery. It is hard to watch but that is the point. The image is supposed to be hard to look at. It will only encourage discussion and understanding. I praise this play for addressing things that aren’t talked about very often.
Marcus Abbott creates a very impressive and detailed set that includes the inside of a home with a few different rooms, the front of the house, and a shed filled with props galore. It feels like you’re looking on the inside and outside of the home all at once.
The accents are a tad bit distracting because each character is speaking slightly differently. Some actors are elongating words more than others which it also makes some words difficult to understand. Despite that, the actors however all had great performances and portrayals. Stand out actors were Bethany Fitzgerald (Kathy “two” Boggs) and Anna Fagan (Rose Jackson).
Fitzgerald is the comedic relief of the show and never fails to have big reactions and over-exaggerated facial expressions. She is a believable pregnant woman with her physicality. Fagan shows Rose’s struggle of not wanting to disappoint her husband’s beautifully. She has a very clear character arc throughout the show which is very notable.
This touching show humanizes women who are doing unrighteous things for the purpose of showing how something like this could happen. It is important to be exposed to stories like this and this production is a great opportunity to open people’s eyes and educate.
Tickets for this show can be found through: http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/queens-golden-mask