Star Dust

Star Dust (Tiffany Theatre; 99 seats; $ 27.50 top) Judy Arnold Prods. presents "Star Dust," a play in one act by Elizabeth Gould Hemmerdinger, directed by Ron Link. Set design, Edward Haynes Jr.; lighting design, Ken Booth; sound design, Charles Dayton; costume design, Judith Brewer Curtis; original music, David Lawrence. Opened and reviewed Jan. 24, 1997; runs until March 16. Running time: 90 minutes. Cast: Joan van Ark (Diana Bristol), Vanessa Marshall (Cordelia Maybrooke) It is a dark and stormy night in the life of acclaimed television personality Diana Bristol (Joan van Ark) as her remote coastal Maine home is invaded by Cordelia Maybrooke (Vanessa Marshall), a mentally unbalanced fan whose oversized handbag contains such attention-getting items as a meat cleaver and a loaded pistol. Playwright Elizabeth Gould Hemmerdinger has fashioned an awkward, unconvincing psychological drama wherein the fragile psyches of the stalked and the stalker become intertwined. Compounding the basic weakness in the writing are the strained, self-conscious performances of van Ark and Marshall (van Ark's real-life daughter), who don't seem to have gotten much guidance from director Ron Link. The most interesting character in this production is Diana's dead mother, Rose, whose warm and comforting visage stares down from the oil painting above the fireplace. It turns out that super-poised Diana is harboring a cavernous well of unrequited resentments against her colorful but crazy mom whose own instability eventually led her to commit suicide. This torrent of long-repressed angst comes gushing forth when Diana learns that Cordelia had actually been a kind of surrogate daughter to Rose when both were patients at a sanitarium. Even though it is established that Cordelia is potentially very dangerous (she actually takes a few well-aimed swipes atDiana with the cleaver), Hemmerdinger's premise is that Diana has such a great need to connect with her mother that she actually bonds with Cordelia, serving her tea, trading stories about Rose and play-acting to the point of playing dress-up in the dead woman's clothes. Neither playwright nor director create a believable transition in the relationship of Diana and Cordelia that would make feasible such an acquired intimacy between the two women. The cast does not help. Van Ark and Marshall swat dialogue back and forth as if they are still trying to get comfortable with their lines. Their characters are called upon to travel the complete spectrum of emotional interaction, yet they never even reach a level of believable conversation. Van Ark's Diana immediately achieves whatever emotional state the lines call for without bothering to have a transitional thought or action. In the first scene, she exudes the cool superiority of a personality who is always in control. In the final scene, she is a grief-wracked heap of pain who finally comes to terms with her mother and her mother's death. What Van Ark doesn't do is create the human being that travels that path. For the most part, Marshall plays Cordelia at two levels: whacked-out loony and standup comedian. One moment she is raging about an imaginary figure who is waiting outside the house to kill her. Then she'll coolly comment to Diana, "You're taking the actions of a sick person much too personally." Though, admittedly, she is playing an unbalanced person, there is never a sense that Marshall's actions are coming from anywhere related to the fact she is onstage with another human being. It is all arbitrary. What does work is the atmosphere created by the set, lighting and sound designs of Edward E. Haynes Jr., Ken Booth and Charles Dayton, respectively. It is easy to believe the two women are isolated on the storm-drenched coast of Maine. --- Julio Martinez

With:
Cast: Joan van Ark (Diana Bristol), Vanessa Marshall (Cordelia Maybrooke).

Star Dust (Tiffany Theatre; 99 seats; $ 27.50 top) Judy Arnold Prods. presents “Star Dust,” a play in one act by Elizabeth Gould Hemmerdinger, directed by Ron Link. Set design, Edward Haynes Jr.; lighting design, Ken Booth; sound design, Charles Dayton; costume design, Judith Brewer Curtis; original music, David Lawrence. Opened and reviewed Jan. 24, 1997; runs until March 16. Running time: 90 minutes. Cast: Joan van Ark (Diana Bristol), Vanessa Marshall (Cordelia Maybrooke) It is a dark and stormy night in the life of acclaimed television personality Diana Bristol (Joan van Ark) as her remote coastal Maine home is invaded by Cordelia Maybrooke (Vanessa Marshall), a mentally unbalanced fan whose oversized handbag contains such attention-getting items as a meat cleaver and a loaded pistol. Playwright Elizabeth Gould Hemmerdinger has fashioned an awkward, unconvincing psychological drama wherein the fragile psyches of the stalked and the stalker become intertwined. Compounding the basic weakness in the writing are the strained, self-conscious performances of van Ark and Marshall (van Ark’s real-life daughter), who don’t seem to have gotten much guidance from director Ron Link. The most interesting character in this production is Diana’s dead mother, Rose, whose warm and comforting visage stares down from the oil painting above the fireplace. It turns out that super-poised Diana is harboring a cavernous well of unrequited resentments against her colorful but crazy mom whose own instability eventually led her to commit suicide. This torrent of long-repressed angst comes gushing forth when Diana learns that Cordelia had actually been a kind of surrogate daughter to Rose when both were patients at a sanitarium. Even though it is established that Cordelia is potentially very dangerous (she actually takes a few well-aimed swipes atDiana with the cleaver), Hemmerdinger’s premise is that Diana has such a great need to connect with her mother that she actually bonds with Cordelia, serving her tea, trading stories about Rose and play-acting to the point of playing dress-up in the dead woman’s clothes. Neither playwright nor director create a believable transition in the relationship of Diana and Cordelia that would make feasible such an acquired intimacy between the two women. The cast does not help. Van Ark and Marshall swat dialogue back and forth as if they are still trying to get comfortable with their lines. Their characters are called upon to travel the complete spectrum of emotional interaction, yet they never even reach a level of believable conversation. Van Ark’s Diana immediately achieves whatever emotional state the lines call for without bothering to have a transitional thought or action. In the first scene, she exudes the cool superiority of a personality who is always in control. In the final scene, she is a grief-wracked heap of pain who finally comes to terms with her mother and her mother’s death. What Van Ark doesn’t do is create the human being that travels that path. For the most part, Marshall plays Cordelia at two levels: whacked-out loony and standup comedian. One moment she is raging about an imaginary figure who is waiting outside the house to kill her. Then she’ll coolly comment to Diana, “You’re taking the actions of a sick person much too personally.” Though, admittedly, she is playing an unbalanced person, there is never a sense that Marshall’s actions are coming from anywhere related to the fact she is onstage with another human being. It is all arbitrary. What does work is the atmosphere created by the set, lighting and sound designs of Edward E. Haynes Jr., Ken Booth and Charles Dayton, respectively. It is easy to believe the two women are isolated on the storm-drenched coast of Maine. — Julio Martinez

Star Dust

Tiffany Theatre; 99 seats; $27.50 top. Opened and reviewed Jan. 24, 1997; runs until March 16.

Production: Judy Arnold Prods. presents "Star Dust," a play in one act by Elizabeth Gould Hemmerdinger, directed by Ron Link. Set design, Edward Haynes Jr.;

Creative: Lighting design, Ken Booth; sound design, Charles Dayton; costume design, Judith Brewer Curtis; original music, David Lawrence. Running time: 90 minutes.

Cast: Cast: Joan van Ark (Diana Bristol), Vanessa Marshall (Cordelia Maybrooke).

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