A theatre review of Two Heads Are Better Productions’ ”Escape From The Garden,” (aka “Tracy in the Kitchen”) written by Sarah Hunter, directed by Marianne Davis and running through March 27 at Two Roads Theatre.
What a pleasure it is to sit in a theatre once again. And what an unexpected delight the new show by playwright Sarah Hunter, “Escape From The Garden,” (aka “Tracy in the Kitchen”) at the Two Roads Theatre in Tujunga Village is!
The story revolves around an out of work and aging actress, Tracy Greene. Hidden away in her small, two-bed apartment with her hardworking teacher husband and her daughter, a struggling actress herself, Ms Greene pines for better times while she laments the terrible review of her last role as Blanch DuBois in “A Street Car Named Desire” at the Ahmanson. Her confidence torn, she finds solace in writing a play of her own about Marie Antoinette with whom she finds the kindred spirit of a misunderstood and beguiling woman ahead of her time. Although, that might not be the best turn of phrase given the method of her untimely end.
Ms Greene flops about in her kitchen, eating take out and never getting further dressed than her sprawling collection of bathrobes. She writes Antoinette into existence, as much a companion as metaphor But, as she does, her grip with reality slips further down the drain, hand in hand with her apartment building maintenance man whose tender attentions she ruthlessly manipulates, using him as both a line reader and a moral boost. Although, of course, he yearns for a much more physical connection.
All this as her husband loses his patience and her daughter bags the titular role of her burgeoning career. It’s a sorry state for Ms Greene to be in, made worse by her play being absolutely appalling. Something she learns when her daughter gives it to her new director at her own insistence. At this point, all hells breaks loose, her husband finds out she has been mercilessly wooing the maintenance man to prop up her ego, the maintenance man is heartbroken, her daughter livid, and they all leave her to fester alone and find her way out of the trouble that she alone has created for herself.
“Escape From The Garden” is absolutely hilarious and the entire cast does a truly wonderful job of playing the rouse to Ms Greene’s flamboyant and totally unrealistic desires.
Sandra Cruze as Ms Greene is brilliant – earthy, grouchy, girlish, scruffy and utterly charming. She flirts and flatters, honks and weeps, cajoles and begs her way through her sad and shuttered existence. However, as ridiculous as she is, you can totally believe why everyone in her life indulges her so.
Childlike at times, surprisingly wise at others. She searches for the humanity and understanding in Antoinette as if needing to know it for herself. But as spoiled and narcissistic as she has become, she really is only as fragile and afraid as the rest of us, she just hides it less efficiently.
I loved this play. Funny, warm hearted, and full of fascinating facts about Marie Antoinette that I never knew I needed to know! We must support theatre, especially small theatre and new plays and glorious women fearlessly following their hearts.
I highly recommend “Escape From The Garden.” What a wonderful way to get back in the theatre! Bravo!
Aurelio Miguel Bocanegra
Through March 27
Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 3pm
Two Roads Theatre
4348 Tujunga Ave.
Studio City, 91604