Reviews of Woman on the Scarlet Beast
Reed Magazine, “Woman for All Seasons”, Playwright Caroline Miller ’59, MAT ’65, dusts off script after a dramatic pause lasting four decades. June 2015
The SouthEast Examiner, Fertile Ground Fest 2015, One of the performances in SE is Woman on the Scarlet Beast, a new drama written by SE author Caroline Miller about three generations of women… January 3, 2015
Willamette Week, Fertile Ground Diaries: Woman on the Scarlet Beast, January 27th, 2015
Woman on the Scarlet Beast, a darkly sarcastic new play by Portlander Caroline Miller, follows the lives and secrets of three generations of women. There’s the sweet but victimizing grandmother, Dulce (Jane Fellows). Her cynical daughter, Ruby (Adrienne Flagg), is a wheelchair-bound former prostitute struggling with her faith in others. And then there’s Ruby’s daughter, Jenny (Olivia Weiss), a headstrong teen recently rejected from a nunnery.
According to the program, the family dynamic—which cycles from anger to blame to regret—was inspired by Miller’s real-life neighbors in the 1960s, and the dysfunction in this Post5 production is about as bleak as in a Noah Baumbach film. Scenes are heavy on explosive shouting, biting accusations and uncomfortably tense silences. This, admittedly, makes it a bit rough to sit through.
Still, it’s not without its compelling moments. Flagg brings a wonderful, bitter sarcasm to the damaged Ruby, who can’t trust her family enough to have an honest (and incredibly important) moment with them. Even when she turns away from the audience—after backing her daughter into a corner during a heated argument—her intonation says just as much as her facial expressions would. Cassandra Boice’s direction is also a highlight, particularly the thoughtful blocking, as when one character stands meekly in a corner, while another aggressively blocks doorways during arguments to impede escape.
Woman on the Scarlet Beast was presented at the Post5 Theatre in Portland, Oregon, in early 2015.