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Feminism, Politics And A Sarah Palin Type Candidate Clash In Rivendell’s “Grizzly Mama”

grizzly-2Contrasts aren’t always depicted starkly. Sometimes they take time to become clear.

“Grizzly Mama,” Rivendell Theatre Ensemble’s latest play, may aptly address a past political election, starting its first act off with the voice of Patti Turnbeck, a Sarah-Palin sound-a-like who also happens to be running for U.S. president.

But its more relatable moments are between Deb, a divorced mother played by Tara Mallen, and Hannah, her teenage daughter played by Taylor Blim. The two have moved to an Alaskan cabin that is, conveniently for Deb, right next door to her recently deceased mother’s sworn enemy. That person, Hannah learns more and more, is Turnbeck.

With Turnbeck’s teenage daughter, Laurel, played by Jenna Ebersberger, “Grizzly Mama” delves even more into the complicated depths of personal motivation. It can take time to develop passion, and to know when that passion has gone too far.

When Deb yells at her daughter that “There’s always time for a coat!,” she’s doing so right after convincing her daughter to commit theft. When Deb takes an interest in Hannah’s creative inclinations, it’s not just to hear how and what her daughter thinks — it’s also to gather a young person’s ideas on the best ways to commit a brutal felony.

That’s how this play, written by playwright George Brant and directed by Megan Carney, is both warm and disturbing, thoughtful and vindictive, mainstream but also extreme. It’s laugh-out-loud funny one minute, then maddeningly repugnant the next. 

Founded in 1994, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble seeks to advance women’s lives through the power of theatre, cultivating the talents of women artists. “Grizzly Mama” is the final production of Rivendell’s 2016 season, “The Body Politic.”

Performances of “Grizzly Mama” will continue on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Saturdays at 4 p.m., until Oct. 15. Walk-up tickets for general admission are $35. 

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is located at 5779 N. Ridge Ave. in Edgewater.

For more information about other ticket prices and the play, visit www.rivendelltheatre.org, or call 773-334-7728.


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