Abundance | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Abundance, Pendulum Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. It may be difficult to capture the Wyoming wilderness in the first-floor studio of the Athenaeum Theatre, but fine performances by the women in Beth Henley's Abundance transcend the boundaries of this small space. Katherine Martinez Ripley as Macon Hill, a mail-order bride struck by "western fever," enlivens the show with her physical expressions of enthusiasm. Brimming with energy and optimism in the first act, Macon is gradually transformed into a bitter down-and-outer in the second. Her fate is counterbalanced by her friend Bess's sudden prosperity. A difficult character given real depth by Lisa Rothschiller, Bess convincingly evolves here from submission and silent sadness to a sophisticated malice.

Playing the bosom buddies, both of whom have moved out west to marry men they've never seen, Ripley and Rothschiller easily upstage their male counterparts. Michael Mazzara as the sycophantic Jack Flan never adequately conveys his character's nastiness. And Tom Pfeil is effective as the dully unattractive William Curtis but doesn't communicate the disappointment and frustrated pride that would make his character's unhappiness more compelling.

Director Bill Redding (aided by costume designer Patti Roeder and lighting designer Benton Bullwinkel) has adeptly cultivated the comedy and pain of this lesser-known Henley script, carefully crafting with Ripley and Rothschiller the little moments that give this production such character.

--Jenn Goddu

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