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 happening?"

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 enormous self-concern.

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.
  ©2004 Dianne V. Lawrence