It's only the first performance, but already Lynn Redgrave's The Mandrake Root is a hit for Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre. The world-premiere drama of dark family secrets revealed will extend on the company's Stage II for a run through March 18. Former Intiman Theatre artistic director Warner Shook (The Kentucky Cycle) directs.
In Mandrake Root, Redgrave becomes Rose Randall, the matriarch of a great family, as she observes her own daughter Sally and Sally's teenaged daughter Kate. Around Rose, she has crafted a story of betrayal, sex and crippling family errors. The character she plays, Redgrave admits, is much based on her mother, the British actress Rachel Kempson.
Mandrake Root was originally to have premiered at the Intiman Theatre in Sept. 2000 but was canceled because of Redgrave's schedule.
One of five generations of actors in the Redgrave family, Lynn Redgrave has already visited her family on stage with her Tony-nominated one woman show, Shakespeare for My Father. Other theatre work has included the Tony-nominated Mrs. Warren's Profession, Black Comedy, Aren't We All and Moon Over Buffalo. She was recently nominated for an Academy Award for "Gods and Monsters," her second such honor after being tapped for playing the title role in "Georgy Girl."
Joining Redgrave are Mark Chamberlin (Alistair), Angela Goethals (Kate/Young Man), Jeane Paulsen (Priest/Sophie/Sister Felicity/Nurse/Ruby), Pippa Pearthree (Sally), Henry Stram (Robert) and, alternating as Child Sally, Francesca Smith and Miranda Valerio. The design team features Michael Olich (sets), Frances Kenny (costumes), Rui Rita (lights) and Dan Moses Schreier (composer/sound). Kevin E. Thompson is the stage manager.
Tickets are $45-$15. For reservations, call (203) 787-4282.The Long Wharf Theatre is on the web at http://www.longwharf.org.
— By Christine Ehren