Karen Doubek




Excerpts from The Review, Thursday, September 13, 2005

Alexa's Necklace

By Luke Edwards



Natural Theatrical’s latest presentation, Alexa's Necklace, an original work by Paula Alprin (of Natural Theatricals) and directed by Susan Alison Keady, is a classical example of great wit out of context.

Alexa’s Necklace is the story of Esther (played wonderfully by Karen Doubek), a mother literally delusioned by the sudden death of her daughter, Janine (portrayed by both Molly Bennet and most notably by Aimee Meher-Homji)…

Esther’s imagination, unhinged by grief, leads her to irrational spite. She unjustly blames those around her, including her husband and sister Ella (Paula Alprin)…

That talent rests in Natural Theatricals is clear; the dialogue is clever and doesn’t pander to the audience–it’s never pejorative in nature. Karen Doubek plays Esther wisely, stretching for whatever emotional attachment with the audience can be gathered from the Stooge-esque direction of the script- if nothing else, the subtle reactions she offers her fellow performers are worth note…

www.naturaltheatricals.com 703-739-5895 info@naturaltheatricals.com Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8PM Sunday at 2PM At the George Washington Masonic National Memorial 101 Callahan Dr. Alexandria, Va. Near King St. Metro.



Full Review from Potomac Stages

The third and final production of this new company's first full summer season is cause for hope as well as an interesting if mixed production in its own right. The three-show season has given us a rarely seen Greek classic (Euripides' "tragicomedy"  Ion), a mid-twentieth century serious verse play (Archibald MacLeish's  Herakles), and now we get an original play by Artistic Director Paula Alprin that shows her affinity to classic theatrical structures but also her facility for humorous dialogue. Indeed, it also shows her ability to deliver that type of dialogue, for she plays the character who has the zaniest world view and shares it with all concerned.

Storyline: A mother whose world was shattered by the sudden death of her daughter in a car crash can't quite control her mind as it merges memory and hope, denial and acceptance, blame and guilt all at the same time. She hallucinates at times while pulling back to deal with reality in a semi confused state. She deals with some of the emotion through the release of humor and some through anger.

Karen Doubeck provides a subtle performance of the grief-crippled mother. We don't see her at the time of her daughter's death. We don't see all the activity that surrounds first learning about and then dealing with the immediate demands of tragedy. The play takes place long after the funeral or the memorial services and all the supportive friends have given the valued little kindnesses and have moved on. The play is about the long term debilitating effects of a grief that refuses to subside, and Doubeck captures the innate fatigue that creeps into the soul after mourning does as much as it can.

Jennifer Berg is the Alexa of the mother's mind - a visage of the youthful Judy Garland as Dorothy who went over the rainbow in the Wizard of Oz - complete down to the ruby slippers in one of Paula Mayes Coupe's good costumes. Molly Bennett, an eighth grade student from Bethesda makes a genial Virginia professional debut as Alexa's younger sister, while AimČe Meher-Homji is the older sister as well as other characters.

The company is still struggling with the issue of how to best use the beautiful but unorthodox theater space where they are now the professional theater company in residence. The space on the circular floor before the audience tends to spread the action out, and using the stage area behind it spreads it even more. The spaciousness, and the time it takes to go from one area to another or for entrances and exits, tends to make the transitions between scenes drag, but over time, directors will find ways to establish the pace they feel is appropriate for each piece. In the meantime, just seeing the hall is a pleasure.

Written by Paula Alprin. Directed by Susan Alison Keady. Design: Trena Weiss-Null (set) Paula Mayes Coupe (costumes) Theoni Panagopoulos (properties) Anne Kinkella (makeup) Mike Egart and Michael Null (sound) Christopher O. Banks (photography) Kimberly Gretton (stage manager). Cast: Paula Alprin. Molly Bennett, Jennifer Berg, Karen Doubek, Fred C. Lash, AimČe Meher-Homji , Michael Null, Tom Pentecost, Janet Devine Smith.



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