“Alligator Tales”, now on Stage II at the Manhattan Theater Club, is
stuffed with vivid, eccentric characters from the Louisiana bayou
country, all played by Anne Galjour, a talented actress and
storyteller and the author of the text.
Among the people who turn up in the performance: Rosetta Cheramie and
her husband, Grady, who join the ranks of the nouveau riche when they
sell their oil rights; Inez Dantin, the adoptive mother of a new-born
baby blown into her life during a hurricane; Inez’s sister Sherelle,
who has breast cancer and falls in love with Urus Arceneaux, a dairy
farmer twice struck by lightning, which seems to have made him
Ms. Galjour is not a mimic, mime or sketch artist. She is an actress
who slips in and out of characters with seamless ease, sometimes in
monologues, at other times in scenes that may involve three or more
different people. It is meant as praise to report that, several days
after seeing “Alligator Tales,” I was no longer sure what the
actress herself looks like. She functions as the author’s voice and
you “see” the characters she plays, male as well as female, even
when their physical characteristics have not been described. Ms.
Galjour herself disappears.
“Alligator Tales” covers more than six years in the lives of its
characters. We follow their fortunes in good times and bad, during one
lethal hurricane and, most effectively, during a flood of
near-biblical proportions. As we are swept along in a raging current
of water moccasins, alligators, cows, fish and barn doors, “Alligator
Tales” becomes more spectacular than “Titanic.”
The production, directed by Sharon Ott, the new artistic director at
the Seattle Rep, looks very lean, but it is full of craft. Kate
Edmunds’s set consists of several low wooden platforms that define the
playing areas, one wooden chair and a back wall painted to suggest
sky. The dominant color is the gray of driftwood, of life weathered.
Equally important are the complicated lighting and sound designs by,
respectively, Kent Dorsey and Steve LeGrand. Ms. Galjour’s text has a
sweep that is both novelistic and cinematic.
An image to remember: Rosetta Cheramie standing on a stool in her
yard, adding eye-liner and a touch of blush to her new statue of the
Virgin Mary. Too bad that it’s just before the flood.