On April 21, 1994, London's Royal National Theatre premiered Indiscretions, Jeremy Sams new translation of Jean Cocteau's eccentric comedy/drama, Les Parents Terribles. Exactly a year later the show came to Broadway where it starred Kathleen Turner, Eileen Atkins, Cynthia Nixon and Roger Rees.
Now the show's gone south -- to Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse, where Indiscretions opened the season Nov. 1, 1996.
Sandra Shipley stars as Yvonne, matriarch of an odd extended family living under one roof. (This was the Kathleen Turner role on Broadway.) Unmarried sister Leonie (Meg Foster) loves Yvonne's husband, played here by Greg Mullavey. HE, however, lusts after young Madeleine (Gretchen Egolf), who happens to be dating his own son (Rick Stear).
Strindberg's The Father was Sandra Shipley's most recent Broadway assignment, and she's acted at Yale Rep, American Repertory and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Sandra Shipley actually appeared in the Broadway Indiscretions, but not as Yvonne. She took over the Leonie role from Eileen Atkins.
Television and film actress Meg Foster has worked at Denver Theatre Center, Pasadena Playhouse and the Los Angeles Theatre Center, while Greg Mullavey is best known for his continuing role on TV's "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." Andre Ernotte, director of Indiscretions, has staged over sixty productions in New York and regional theatre. He won Obies for directing Polly Pen's musical, Christina Alberta's Father at the Vineyard in 1994, and for staging Vienna Notes at Playwrights Horizons.
Sets for the production are by James Noone, lighting by Phil Monat, costumes by Ellis Tillman, sound by Steve Shapiro. The Broadway production, by Stephen Brimson Lewis, had a memorably decadent set with a long, winding staircase and break-apart construction for the finale. James Noone's design for the Coconut Grove production also goes for strong, florid effects, contrasting the red velvet walls of Yvonne's room to the stark whites and blacks of Madeleine's apartment.
Poet and painter Jean Cocteau wrote Les Parents Terribles in 1938, reportedly after an 8-day opium binge. After premiering in Paris, Les Parents Terribles was quickly shut down by French authorities for its immorality.
Miami Herald critic Christine Dolen wrote of this "wonderfully acted and gorgeous to watch" production, "Cocteau's opium-inspired imagination and [Andre] Ernotte's insightful flair merge in a production that is intellectually absorbing and emotionally engaging. It's a weighty, risky choice for the Grove. Vive la difference."
For tickets ($30-$35) and information on Indiscretions, call (305) 442-4000.
-- By David Lefkowitz