Be a Good Little Widow at Collaboraction | Theater review
Bekah Brunstetter’s well-intentioned but flawed grief play trips up Collaboraction’s talented team.
Young newlywed Melody (Meghan Reardon) is also newly relocated to her husband Craig’s small Connecticut hometown. With Craig, who’s slightly older, frequently called away on business trips, Melody’s left feeling alone and lost in a place where she knows no one, least of all herself.
Most of all, she feels inadequate under the judgmental eye of her patrician mother-in-law, Hope (Susan Fay), who’s long structured her life by the unbendable matronly rules of the Widows’ League. Things are bad for Melody even before—and here I’d insert a spoiler alert if playwright Bekah Brunstetter’s title didn’t make this clear—she becomes a widow herself, upon which Hope becomes somehow even less sympathetic.
Brunstetter has a few insights, particularly when it comes to the ways we sometimes try to assert our intimacy with the recently deceased. There’s a nicely observed moment in which Hope, Melody and Craig’s assistant, Brad (Christian Blackburn), all lay claim to their familiarity with some minor personality trait of Craig’s: “I know.” “I also know.” “I know, too.”
But the well-meaning script has major structural issues, weighed down by its quest for quirk; long passages set to tunes from Melody’s iPod feel designed to borrow meaning from the songs, and worse, Brunstetter’s timeline is fatally fuzzy. Actors who’ve dazzled me elsewhere, particularly sleepy-eyed charmer Reardon, are unable to gain a foothold here. Even director Anthony Moseley and set designer John Wilson seem as if they’re working a few notches below their usual game in this shoddily paced, visually flat production.