The remount of Gertrude & Alice kicked off Buddies In Bad Times Theatre’s 40th season and it was like walking through a Picasso painting, amazing. The smart set is made up of seemingly decorative items that later serve as functioning props for the characters. The set design is genius in that it’s all powered by sand and gravity, turning the space into a magical universe that is as familiar as it is foreign.
There is no fourth wall to speak of, which gives this production a sense of intimacy. With the audience flanked on both sides of the space, Evelyn Parry plays a riveting Gertrude Stein, the posturing self-proclaimed genius who is supported by her side-kick girlfriend Alice B. Toklas, played by a mesmerizing Anna Chatterton. From the opening scene, Evelyn Parry immersed the audience in the stories behind these two inseparable women.
Over a forty-year marriage, Gertrude & Alice’s contributions to 20th-century literature are undeniable and this examination of the duo breathes new life into their often complicated relationship. Gertrude & Alice is a delight to experience as is the repetition of Gertrude’s prose which almost becomes infectious by the play’s end. Lacking for me was more of the emotional struggle that two queer women would have faced at that time and how that would have impacted the work.
Smartly written, Gertrude & Alice holds many memorable moments including Gertrude’s speech about the comma, the sex scene which was as clever as it was funny, and Alice’s moving attempts to be subservient to Gertrude. A rich and thoughtful production that will transport you into a universe of equal parts genius and insanity. On until October 7, 2018: TICKETS.
Photos of Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry by Jeremy Mimnagh.