THEATRE / David Benedict on theatre

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Hey y'all. . . we're havin' a major Southern Gothic revival right now. Faber have just republished the complete works of Flannery O'Connor, short-storywriter par excellence, Clare Higgins is storming through Sweet Bird of Youth at the National Theatre (go]) and 900 Oneonta continues on its florid way at the Old Vic. The latest arrival is Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart (right).

Winnner of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize, British audiences only know the play via Bruce Beresford's movie version, which featured a trio of magnificent performances (Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek) but caused Jessica Lange (and audiences) to wonder 'where was the taste patrol?' Nick Hutchison is the man in charge of taste in the current production. How is he going to ensure it doesn't tip over into melodrama?

'The danger is to take it all too seriously. The play is actually very, very funny. Beth Henley is a mistress of irony. In terms of their emotions, the writing is very precise, but she's sending up that whole Southern Gothic thing. There is an ironic edge to it which we're bringing out with the help of Annie Gosney's design. We've thrown out the idea of a perfect replica of a Deep South kitchen. She has come up with something quite extraordinary. We're certainly not asking you to bask in the warm glow of Southern Comfort.'

'Crimes of the Heart' previews from Tuesday at the Man in the Moon (071-351 2876). See Beyond the West End, South

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