Review of Nancy Evans "Tiny Alice"
By Dianne V. Lawrence
Printed in High Performance, Issue # 37, 1987
Edward Albee’s footnotes for his Broadway play "Tiny
Alice" have been brought to life in an understated
effective performance by Nancy Evans. Everything in the
production was whittled down to bare essentials, which
served to exaggerate the subtext. The piece had the feel
of a recurring dream, one that held secret to Alice’s
obsessive dilemma. Evans moved through the piece like
a somnambulistic Alice in Wonderland, yet her eyes were
wide open as if all the issues were finally clear. Seated
atop three small steps, her bare back to the audience,
she said slowly and clearly, "I’m very relaxed
but my fingers are pointed. My fingers form a brittle
arch pointing towards a single thing, perfection. Turned
into a hard thing, and excruciating thing…pointing
to perfection and turned to gray stone"
She fell weeping, then turned and crawled down the stairs
listing her resentments (being ignored, dismissed…the
usual frustrations of the struggling artist). She came
to the middle of the stage and turned toward a box construction
covered on four sides by images of the people and symbols
in her dream. She was drawn to these clues like moths
to a flame, seeking a dangerous comfort.
She wondered about sacrifice, obsession, about reality
"a tight skin easily ruptured." Suddenly her
long reverie was interrupted by Scottie, the man in her
life. Played with charm and a dogged enthusiasm by J.P.
Kovaks, he cracked open the champagne and tried to crack
open her reality.
"Hey honey, are you just too stupid to see what’s
Scottie welcomed the diversion of a third character, Scarlet,
played with wonderful comic flair by Patty Podesta. Sensual,
mischievous and indolent, she presented an earthy, playful
contrast to dreamy Alice. Lurching through the door holding
her glass high and demanding "INDULGE US PLEASE!"
she was drunk, annoyed and in no mood for advice. Scottie
welcomed this delicious distraction from Tiny Alice’s
The piece presented a landscape that lies beneath the
words we speak and the facile emotions we allow ourselves
to feel. Like a real dream the performance was layered
and yet cohesive, with a strong internal reality. It evoked
the struggle of being an artist and a woman with the need
to isolate, articulate and amplify obsession, to refine
motivations. The artist’s need for independence
contrasted with the woman’s longing for domestic
security promised her by the culture. In this spare but
effective poetic text, Evans revealed a private life and
found an echo in our recognition of it. It rang true.