The word tour-de-force sums up the Asolo’s production of The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.
By Kay Kipling
In her director’s notes for The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead, Melissa Kievman rightly compares the solo performer to a high-wire act. Certainly in this swiftly moving play where the story spins out through seven different points of view, actress Sharon Scruggs seems to be having the time of her life up there where it’s dangerous.
Sharon Scruggs in the Asolo Rep’s The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.
Scruggs, aided by movers/costumers Dee Byrd and Richard B. Williams, brings to life the diverse characters conceived by playwright Robert Hewett with nary a slip. The first we meet is seemingly meek and mild-mannered Rhonda Russell (the redhead of the title), who’s prodded into an unexpected action with fateful consequences when she becomes convinced her estranged husband is having an affair. From there we meet a socially committed lesbian doctor, a gossipy neighbor, a bereaved young boy, the aforementioned husband (one of the best bits of the show; he’s both funny and slimy), a wheelchair-bound watcher and a Russian jewelry store saleswoman. Each one reveals something of the truth of the tragicomic piece in monologues that take place over several years, ending up with a final visit from Rhonda.
Scruggs is never less than convincing, and the set, video projections and background music of the show help her and us to achieve the necessary transitions smoothly. There may still be times, though, when one wonders if the play itself is really about anything that significant, or if it’s just the virtuosity of the performer that makes it succeed. Whatever the case, Scruggs certainly earns the standing ovations she’s probably bound to receive each evening.
The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead continues through Feb. 2 in an Asolo Repertory Theatre production at the Historic Asolo Theater. For tickets call 351-8000 or visit asolo.org.