A Charity Case
Wendy Beckett's well-acted drama concerns an adolescent girl torn between her birth mother and adoptive mother.
Indeed, Beckett wants patrons to see the difficulty, maybe even the futility, of making such a judgment. To that end, she has carefully and cagily drawn portraits of two seriously flawed women -- Faith and Harpie (Alysia Reiner) -- so that the work is a delicately calibrated six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other argument.
Faith, a dress maker, is a dictatorial, self-absorbed, only slightly fading beauty. As a result of psychological flaws, she sees herself in competition with her daughter to such an extent she even undermines the girl's plans to attend a school dance in the dress she's selected. Worse, Faith is a drinker, whose latest boyfriend, David, beats her up so badly that she arrives home one morning after with a brutal black eye.
On the other hand, Deidre's birth mother -- seen several times in stage limbo wearing costume designer Theresa Squire's layered late-hippie drag -- exists on her own self-proclaimed astral plane. That she regains her senses before play's end doesn't erase the past mistakes and missteps.