In the first act of his 1991 Pulitzer winner, Edward Albee gleefully demolishes the habitual stagecraft of lesser writers. Centering his story on the pitifully unreliable recollections of a 92-year-old woman suffering from dementia, Albee reveals flashes of narrative amid a torrent of irrelevant recollection. Ann Whitney cements this fine Apple Tree production by inhabiting fully her character’s failing body, retaining a lifetime’s habit of control by subtly wielding her loss of control against her nurse (Barbara Robertson) and lawyer’s young assistant (Jenny McKnight). The formidable Robertson comes into her own in the second, more conventional act, if one can call an act featuring three temporal slices of the same character conventional. “Three Tall Women” becomes a memory play, investigating the incidents that made this alternately monstrous and vulnerable woman who she was. Robertson plays her middle-aged counterpart furiously, spitting wrathful venom at her younger self like a bourgeois Lady Macbeth. “Three Tall Women” features the viciously witty interplay and artfully bizarre anecdotes one expects from Albee; the tale of an unusual method of delivering a gift bracelet proves particularly memorable. For all its bile, though, the play remains a testament to the sheer attractiveness of life itself, a lesson underscored by the vital power of these three performers. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.