Michaelanne Forster’s play, which is receiving its U.S. premiere here, studies two adolescents who committed a crime that shocked New Zealand in the 1950s. (The play’s subject was also recounted in Peter Jackson’s 1994 film, Heavenly Creatures.) Pauline Parker (Amanda Jones) and Juliet Hulme (Brittania Nicol) are a pair of madly romantic souls who cling to one another in a time of stifling conformity. Besides completing each other’s sentences, they write novels and poems together, listen to Mario Lanza records, and inhabit a pagan fantasy world in which they reign as goddesses. That is, until they murder Pauline’s mother (Brenda Beck) and are put on trial for the act. The play is half-narrated by Bridget O’Malley (Kerry McGrath), a housekeeper for Juliet’s middle-class parents, and her tone echoes the period’s rigid morality (especially against the girls’ platonic lesbianism) while providing a common-sense foil for both the “educated” hypocrisy of Juliet’s parents and the girls’ breathtakingly delusional behavior. Director Judith Bohannon and an extremely committed ensemble grace this tale with a poetic sadness that makes the show a memorable evening, even though the small stage at times seems built for a dollhouse. Jones, in particular, is a talent to watch, and the intensity of her Pauline is almost frightening. Randy Pool’s outstanding costuming authentically re-creates the 1950s, although one actor inexplicably sports the kind of hippie hair that probably would’ve gotten his character at the time arrested quicker than the girls.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: March 21. Continues through April 26, 2008
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