Monday, February 17, 2020

Old Globe’s “Hurricane Diane” or Look What The Winds Blew In.


You don’t have to wear a Parka to see Madeleine George’s “Hurricane Diane” at the Old Globe through March 8th.  No! The fierceness of this storm comes in the production’s direction by James Vasquez and the four women and one goddess ensemble drinking their way to a more sustainable world. It’s a perfect storm that moves this tragi-comedy along from a category one storm to a category ten.   
Rami Margron is Diane
A fast moving blizzard blows Diane or to be more precise the Greek god Dionysus (also known as Bacchus-Rami Margron) into Red Bank New Jersey’s suburban cul-de-sac where Carol (Lisa Wisan), Beth (Jennifer Paredes), Renee (Opal Alladin) and Pam (Jenn Harris), reside.

After a rather long introduction as to who and what Diane is/ was all about, we find the Real Housewives of New Jersey’s world is in topsy- turvey mode in what might be called a overwhelming force of nature the women don’t see coming.

If truth be told Diane the now gardener/ landscaper/ gender neutral butch, god of agriculture (or more like a forest ranger according to Carol), wine, and song is hell bent on fixing the ecosystem in their neighborhood. Along the way she gives them all a personal makeover they will never forget as she seduces and reduces all but one of them into groveling, lesbian worshipers.   

Pulitzer Prize winner finalist Madeleine George’s poke in the eye warning of the earth’s devastation if we don’t do something radical, looks, sounds and feels like a comedy waiting to break out of it’s coma, when in reality devastation and tragedy are brewing on the horizon.
Jenn Harris, Opal Alladin, Rami Margron, Jennifer Paredes
George puts her ‘girls,’ as she calls them, in some pretty hilarious and breakout situations outlining the steps needed to begin making changes in the ecosystem starting with their own yard makeovers.

Wisan’s Carol is determined to keep her neatly manicured yard but wants accent colors and a wrought iron bench much to Diane’s chagrin. And please do not mention ‘curb appeal’ to Diane.

Beth wants a fairy garden. She’s been living the nightmare since her husband left and her lawn hasn’t been coifed in twelve weeks. She has bigger problems. She hurt herself while meditating. It's good to see Paredes back on the hometown stage. 

Jenn Harris as Pam and Rami Margron is Diane
Pam is the unstoppable pure- blooded Italian (on both sides) who insists Diane stop into the only real Italian restaurant in town to taste their authentic Italian cooking. She wants her yard to look like the ‘Mediterranean palazzo’ on the mural outside on the wall of the restaurant. Dressed in varying degrees leopard prints, Harris is a hoot and a howl as she rams one -liners down our throats a mile a minute. I have to admit I had some pretty laugh out loud moments just listening to her jabber.

Alladin's Renee is the only woman of color to hold the job as editor of HGTV.  As a younger woman she lived on a permaculture commune. She thinks she sold her soul to keep her job, and so it goes. 
Jennifer Paredes, Rami Margron, Opal Alladin and Jenn Harris
If you don’t see, feel or fear the next chapter of the devastation from climate change, heed the words of Diane:  “If I don’t step in now, the glaciers are gonna melt and the permafrost is gonna thaw and fast forward a hundred years and there won’t be a single person left on the planet to worship me.”

Diane is in the neighborhood to begin her revolutionary work saving the earth and her first big makeover will be to dig up the lawns and put sustainable fruits and veggies in its place. Rami Margron is a perfect representation of the strong willed person (they/them) wanting to take charge. Unfortunately changes will have to take in another neighborhood. These N.J. housewives are simply not interested in any change any time soon.

A steady diet of wine is served up every time the ‘girls get together in Carol’s kitchen (which was often) designed by Jo Winiarski.  The bright kitchen with stove, refrigerator, shiny counter tops and cabinets make it look livable. Back to the cupboards, they are well stocked with more Chardonnay, Zinfandel and liquor than is in my local liquor store. The single set serves as the one-all kitchen.
Rami Margron and Opal Alladin
Outside branches covered with leaves from a variety of trees are strewn around the stage and grow in depth as the storm increases. The winds whistle (Drew Long), lightning flashes and thunder rocks the stage in an almost realistic feeling of carnage. 

Costume designer Shirley Pierson dressed the ‘girls’ in Eileen Fisher neutrals (Renee), Lands End Starfish casuals (Carol), Tiger print wrap dresses and jewelry (Pam) and Beth, grungy.

Cat Tate Starmer’s lighting reflects the changing tones of the conversation and degrees of storm raging outside. Golden Hand is credited for the original music and music direction.

In the mid 50’s Hurricane Carol swept through Connecticut, Rhode Island and my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts.  It would become ‘the most powerful storm to strike Southern New England since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938’.

All references to “This is what Hurricane Carol” left in her wake was no easy fete to live down. I was in my mid teens and we all scattered to safety the best we could as the waves pounded the coastal shores unmercifully, water filled the underground pipe lined and lifted storm drains floating in mid air, and cellars (yes cellars) flooded.  According to reports, …this hurricane was so ferocious the name ‘Carol’ was retired for a decade. WHEW!

It seems the world is too much with us these days and now we come to expect climate change as a matter of fact. Those not paying attention aught to be ashamed. Check out the damage throughout the world; fires, floods, landslides, devastation from strip mining, drilling for oil, volcanoes erupting and ask yourselves if this is the world you want for future generations.
Liz Wisan and Rami Margron
Ask those living in Mississippi now what it feels like to be living the nightmare of another hurricane. Or how the high water levels in Venice is effecting that city…or, or, or.

See you at the theatre.


Dates: Through March 8th
Organization: The Old Globe
Phone: 619-234-5623
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92103
Ticket Prices: Start at $30.00
Web: theoldglobe.org
Venue: Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre
Photo Credit: Jim Cox

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