LA Times Review When They Speak Of Rita

Los Angeles Times
‘Rita’ wants more from wifely life

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Daisy Foote, daughter of playwright Horton Foote, displays the same richly humanistic concerns as her venerable father in “When They Speak of Rita,” at Pacific Resident Theatre.

As in much of her father’s work, Foote’s play concerns the plight of a besieged small-town family forced to cope with extraordinary circumstances. However, the setting – rural New Hampshire – is about as far from the familiar Foote territory of central Texas as one can get and still be on the same continent.

In this case, the crisis is not so much fateful as volitionaL Rita Potter (Joanna Daniels) is a frustrated stay-at-home wife whose fondest dreams have been lost in workaday tedium. Sadly taken for granted by her blue-collar husband, Asa (Dan Verdin), and their strong-willed teenage son Warren (Scott Jackson), Rita finds a sympathetic ear in Jimmy (Michael Redfield), Warren’s backward pal. Dismissed as little more than a workhorse, Rita is about to kick over the traces in a big way.

Although uncharacteristic, Rita’s rebellion is nonetheless predictable, as is another plot point concerning Warren’s high school sweetheart Jeannie (Rachel Avery). Fortunately, director Karen Landry serves up this unassuming, slice-of-lice material with absolute truthfulness. Self-effacing and unpretentious, the actors gfive the kind of no-frills, straightforward perfgormane that should be studied in master acting classes.

Among the superb technical elements, Kathi O’Donohue’s inconspicuous lighting and Zack Bunker’s calculatedly tacky set stand out. Dialect coach Lesley Fers deserves high praise for the castls perfectly sustained New Hampshire accents.

“When They Speak Of Rita” Resident Theatre, 705 1/2, Venice Blvd, Venice. 8 pm Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 pm. Sundays. No performances June 30th – July 3rd. Ends Aug. 7.$20 to $25. (310) 8228392. Running Time: 2 Hrs.

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