HOUSTON -- For a "serious" play that originally starred Jessica Tandy and Colleen Dewhurst, further boasted John Gielgud as director, and was written by Edward Albee well after his reputation had been established, All Over is remarkably little-known. Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston hopes to rectify this by reviving the 1971 rarity, which had premiered at the Martin Beck Theater in New York and was generally dismissed by critics for being, among other things, too static and remote.
Raising the stakes even more than usual, Albee, who teaches each spring at the University of Houston School of Theatre, is in residence for this new production. The three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner is providing insight for the cast and for director Sidney Berger, who has worked with Albee in such capacity before and is his colleague at the School of Theatre. The show opens March 6 and runs through March 29.
Like much of Albee's oeuvre, All Over is a domestic drama that experiments with the forms of naturalism. Wife, Mistress, Best Friend, Son, and Daughter hold a vigil at the deathbed of a famous public figure, who's off-stage. Tensions mount, recriminations fly, and power plays ensue as the unnamed characters ponder their intertwined existence. Uneasy alliances are revealed, and all are self-deluded and self-destructive. All Over is another Albee indictment of family life that begins archly and ultimately explodes.
In a 1971 discussion with Guy Flatley, which is part of a 1988 book titled Conversations with Edward Albee, Albee said, "Serious theater is meant to change people, to challenge their perception of themselves. And there is a change that takes place in All Over. . . . I write plays about how people waste their lives. The people in this play have not lived their lives; that's what they're screaming and crying about."
All Over runs March 6-29 at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston. For tickets, $15 - $28, call (713) 52-STAGES. -- By Peter Szatmary