"... a rich, vibrant, theatrical offering"
A Round-Heeled Woman: Breathtaking (San Francisco Bay Times)
"Sharon is sheer perfection"
Don't Miss A Round-Heeled Woman (Tango Diva)
"... entertaining and educational."
A Round-Heeled Woman at Theater Artaud (7x7 San Francisco)
"... a collection of strong performances"
Senior libido (Bay Area Reporter)
"... Sharon Gless creates a touching woman"
Theater reviews (Pacific Sun)
A Round-Heeled Woman: Breathtaking – By Mike Ward
“BEFORE I TURN 67 – next March – I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.” From a simple personal ad begins one of the most intelligent, humorous, and
theatrical offerings to spring forth from the San Francisco stages. Jane Prowse’s A Round-Heeled Woman (based on Jane Juska’s autobiographical novel) is sensually directed by Chris Smith, produced by Z Space in
association with Brian Eastman and Richmond Theatre. And it doesn’t have just one star in Sharon Gless – the entire cast is stellar. Theatre of this caliber and visceral magnitude is a rarity, and this one plays in SF for a very short while.
Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Gless (“Cagney & Lacey” and “Queer as Folk”) portrays a liberal Berkeley literature professor, who, after spending yet another New Year’s Eve with friends Celia (Ann Darragh) and Nathalie (Stacy Ross), decides her life needs filling-up, so to speak. So she places the aforementioned ad in The New York Review of Books. A racy adventure begins.
Gless is the only actor to play a singular character. Darragh, Ross, Stephen Macht, Ian Scott MacGregor and Ray Reinhardt portray multitudes of personae in this kaleidoscopic unfolding of Juska’s adventure that shows that sex doesn’t stop in one’s late 60s. Or 70s. Or 80s. From the moment Gless acknowledges the audience, she pulls us along as willing, longing participants in her character’s escapades, allowing us to be part and party to her inner world. She well anchors the work, which is more challenging than one would think. With five other actors swirling about in a stream-ofconsciousness tsunami, it would be easy for this play to twist out of control. But Gless keeps it solid and (sur)real.
Bay Area acting treasure Ross is nothing short of breathtaking in her complement of characters. She echoes the protagonist in a parallel story – Trollope’s “Miss MacKenzie” who oft-appears when Juska questions her
choices. Ross paints not just with broad strokes, but with nuanced touches from her remarkable acting palate, where classical, contemporary and comic turns pay off time and again. McGregor is a revelation in his retinue of personalities. At times he is a raw, deeply wounded animal as Juska’s guitarplaying, skateboard-riding, punkish rebel son. At others he’s an openhearted, immensely thoughtful younger lover who touches her heart so deeply (and whom she spurns out of chronological prejudice).
Darragh, as both the sensible best buddy and Juska’s deceased mother, provides balance and counterpoint to the fugue of friends and family. Macht brings fuel and heat to keep the engine of the play moving along with steam. And Reinhardt masterfully shifts from coldly dismissive to leeringly licentious, always bringing texture and depth to this amazing ensemble.
Director Smith loves women, as many of his other works have borne out. In less respectful hands, this could have devolved into an overly-gratuitous, voyeuristically-tawdry affair. But he brings out the best and the beast from all of the beauties in this play, women and men. John Mayne’s sets provide flair and flexibility for this ever-episodic offering, as do Matthew Antaky’s brilliant lights and stunning projections. Sarah Huddleston’s solid soundscape provides aural cues and clues to maintain time/place/character, as do the clean lines of Jessie Amoroso’s convertible costumes.
Playwright Prowse gives us a rich, vibrant, theatrical offering, exploring one woman’s courageous journey for self realization. Make no mistake: A Round-Heeled Woman isn’t just for women, it’s for everyone who has faced a crisis of identity and value in their life. In other words, all of us.