Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 28, 2020

REVIEW: Barrington Stage Company, Three Viewings (Virtual Reading)

Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, MA
September 23 through September 27
By Jarice Hanson

In an effort to engage with, and bring quality entertainment to audiences, Barrington Stage has been streaming works that bow to Covid-19 regulations.  In “Three Viewings” by Jeffrey Hatcher, the talents of an outstanding playwright and three charismatic actors fill the bill.  Hatcher’s three monologs have a common theme.  All take place in a Midwestern funeral home which might suggest decorum, but each actor uses direct address with the viewer to create an intimate, hilarious relationship.

Kirkwood Smith is delightfully smarmy as a mild-mannered undertaker with a passion for the local real estate broker in "Tell-Tale." Angel Desai performs "The Thief of Tears" about a woman who is committed to getting the jewelry she was promised as a child from her dead grandmother.  Finally, the wonderful Debra Jo Rupp gives a funny, but poignant performance in "Thirteen Things About Ed Carpoletti," in which she plays a new widow who finds out her late husband has left her in debt to the bank and the mob.  Each of these actors is brilliant in expressing the comedy and pathos of the monologs, without audience feedback to fuel those performances. Julianne Boyd directs all three pieces and guides her actors in pacing and delivery so that the audience sees three very different individuals who complement each other as believable characters. It should also be noted that Mr. Smith and Ms. Rupp have a long relationship as the Red and Kitty Forman in the television sitcom "That '70s Show."

Hatcher’s script was published in 1996, but the content is timeless. In Barrington Stage’s decision to mount “Three Viewings” with these three actors, the company has hit the mark with seasoned professionals who are as comfortable on the big stage as they are in the intimate rectangle of a television or computer screen. There are many laugh out loud moments and the production does provide a certain satisfaction of watching quality work that is often missing in trying to stage theatrical events for streaming purposes.

Barrington Stage offered the show for a donation of $25 or more, and streaming was available for 96 hours.  Though the experience of the show was not as invigorating as seeing the productions live, the laughter it provided at this time in history was well worth the modest donation, and once again, Barrington Stage shows how quality productions in a variety of venues and formats.