Sisters Lenny (Rhonda J. Soikowski) and Meg (Brenda Joyner) argue in a scene from ‘Crimes of the Heart.’

Sisters Lenny (Rhonda J. Soikowski) and Meg (Brenda Joyner) argue in a scene from ‘Crimes of the Heart.’

‘Crimes of the Heart’ puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunction

The Pulitzer prize-winning play “Crimes of the Heart” is the epitome of modern Southern Gothic humor.

Author Beth Henley got it right with her story about family dysfunction, something with which most of us are familiar.

Set in a small Mississippi town in the mid-1970s, the story is about three sisters dealing with a no good, very bad string of days that involve issues of feminism, romance and familial relationships.

No sugary happy endings here, but the strength of love, even after estrangement, is evident.

Village Theatre brings its annual “non-musical” to Everett, with its production of “Crimes of the Heart” opening Friday at the Everett Performing Arts Center.

After Henley’s dark comedy did well on Broadway, she adapted it for film. The 1986 movie starred Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek as the Magrath sisters.

Village attracts the best of regional actors, and this play’s cast is no exception. The actresses playing the sisters all are making their debuts on the Village stage. Rhonda J. Soikowski is Lenny, Brenda Joyner plays Meg and Sydney Andrews is Babe.

Directed by the talented Kathryn Van Meter (who co-directed “Mary Poppins” and “Les Miserables”), the cast also includes newcomers Robert Bergin as Barnette, the lawyer, and Orion Bradshaw as Doc, the friend. Village audiences will recognize the perfectly cast Angela DiMarco (“The Foreigner” and “The Importance of Being Earnest”) as the sisters’ hilariously uptight cousin Chick.

In a release from Village, Van Meter said she feels connected to the Magrath sisters, whose mother committed suicide when they were young, and took the family cat with her for unknown reasons.

“There’s something really special about the poetry and language of the South, and what truths can come to light when women — sisters — are hashing it out in the kitchen, trying to figure out their lives.”

As the play opens, Babe, the good-girl youngest sister, has shot her domineering husband. Well, she didn’t like the way he looked at her. Needless to say, her husband is not too happy about lying in a hospital bed. Out on bail, Babe is nervously making lots of sugary lemonade while she, Lenny and Meg talk about the crimes of the heart that can be shared only between sisters.

The free-spirited but mixed-up middle sister Meg is back from California and a failed career in the music industry.

The oldest, Lenny, who has been the caretaker for their now hospitalized granddaddy, is lamenting her forgotten 30th birthday, her lonesome life and the death of her horse by lightning strike.

But not all is bad, and the sisters find themselves unexpectedly laughing about life.

As usual, Village’s set, costumes, lighting and sound designs are right on, and believable to anyone who lived through the 1970s.

Even the set’s kitchen sink with running water added to the play’s immersive quality, as did other props.

During the course of its run in on Village’s Issaquah stage and in Everett, “Crimes of the Heart” will have gone through 79 birthday cakes, 948 chocolates, 72,607 candles, 2,844 matches and 158 lemons.

That’s a lot of lemonade.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427;

If you go

Village Theatre’s “Crimes of the Heart” plays March 4 to 27 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Tickets range from $32 – $64. Call the box office at 425-257-8600. The production is sponsored by The Daily Herald. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, 2 p.m. March 24.

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