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Theater review: 'If We Are Women' at the Lonny Chapman Theatre

February 15, 2012 |  4:48 pm

Marcia Loring and Jacque Lynn Colton in "If We Are Women"
Veteran playwright Joanna McClelland Glass is one of those proven practitioners whose dramaturgical credentials are well established.

Take “Trying,” Glass' superlative 2004 two-hander, which enjoyed a record-breaking run at the Colony a few years back.  That deft work, about a dying, aristocratic judge's end-of-life friendship with a young secretary fresh off the Canadian prairie, was certainly theater at its best.

Given Glass' track record, one suspects that “If We Are Women,” first produced in 1993, also contains hidden virtues. But in its current staging at Group Rep’s Lonny Chapman Theatre, director Sherry Netherland and an uninspired cast obscure the material's potential under a thick layer of inexpertise.

Female bonding is the order of the play.  Bestselling author Jessica MacMillan Cohen (Lisa McGee-Mann), her intellectual ex-mother-in-law, Rachel (Marcia Loring), and her illiterate mother, Ruth (Jacque Lynn Colton), have all come together after the death of Jessica's artist lover.  When Jessica's Yale-bound daughter Polly (Annie Mackay) wanders in a day late from her prom and announces she’s taking up farming with a dissolute rich boy, the older women unite in their efforts to dissuade her.

Overly discursive and obvious, the play contains enough crisp one-liners and crackling aphorisms to pique one’s interest, yet sitcom-light performances keep the audience at an emotional distance.  Colton, in particular, struggles for lines, and ill-considered technical elements contribute to the production’s overall problems.

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“If We Are Women,” Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.  In repertory.  Ends April 1.  $15-$22. (818) 763-5990. www.thegrouprep.com. Running time:  2 hours, 30 minutes.

Photo: Marcia Loring and Jacque Lynn Colton in "If We Are Women." Credit: Sherry Netherland.

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