Bowie Community Theatre is concluding its year of the woman with Deborah Brevoort’s The Women of Lockerbie Directed by Estelle Miller, a fitting end to a season celebrating women. The play itself is a nod to ancient Greek drama and a requiem for all the innocent lives lost on PanAm Flight 103 and on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. The production currently on stage at the Bowie Playhouse is a tour-de-force performance of five spectacular female thespians. The production runs 96 minutes in length with no intermission and these women are the backbone of the performance and carry the weight of it, the disaster, and the world on their shoulders and all of that is visible from the moment you see them, until the last moment of the production.
The show is extremely poignant and moving, however, there is too much distraction caused by the set that not enough focus can be given to the women of the show. The work itself needs little action as the words tell a beautiful story, but some of the action that does take place on the stage is awkward at best and distracting at worse. The set design, by Estelle Miller with construction by Roy Peterson, lends itself to awkward action and movements. The hills are represented from down center stage to up stage left with what appears to be step platforms making each level. When the actors, most notably the actor playing Bill Livingston, move up and down the hills they are constantly looking down and taking odd strides to get up those steps. The other problem is either in the lighting, set design, or set painting, but it is hard to tell which, as the stream that runs from the hills also runs through the playing area and the actors are taking large steps over it throughout the performance. This stream, because of the design elements, did not look like a stream until the very end of the show when the women washed the cloths in it, until that time, it appeared that the actors were taking large steps over rocks or something else on the stage, but what that was was not clear. These set issues continually took away from the work the actors were doing on stage and the beautiful story that was being told.
The cast itself is very strong, with each carrying their own roles with great dignity and nuisances necessary for such a production. Of particular note are the five women in the show, each of which have embraced their characters and are living the character’s journey on stage through the entire performance. Dianne Hood as Madeline Livingston is heartbreakingly good as she searches for anything remaining of her son lost on PanAm flight 103. Hood’s portrayal of a lost mother in mourning is riveting and pulls you in, to hold you in hope that she finds the peace she is longing to find. Anne Hull as First Woman of Lockerbie, Linda Pattison and Second Woman of Lockerbie, and Darice Clewell as Olive Allison begin to tell the story as a Greek Chorus, but when their own personal stories are revealed and their journeys to find peace with the tragedy that took place are shared there is not a dry eye in the theatre.
The raw emotion of Clewell is felt deep within your soul as she tells of Olive’s experience and rationale for her actions. The way each of them, especially Hull and Pattison talk about picking up the pieces (of wreckage and their lives) and moving on is hauntingly eerie. The way all of them talk about what happens to them when it gets dark is painful and gut wrenching. Last, but definitely not least, Carol Long’s Hattie is a perfect balance of light humor and action. Long brings the much needed laughs to a heavy show and when something needs to be done, she takes the reigns and makes things happen for the good of the women and the families. These women are phenomenal and for them alone, it is worth going to the Bowie Playhouse and seeing the Women of Lockerbie.
The Women of Lockerbie being performed now by Bowie Community Theatre at the Bowie Playhouse is powerful and moving. The women on stage are strong, both as actors and characters. The production is a journey through emotions and darkness that can shake you to the core, but it is well worth taking that journey with these women at this time. The production is the perfect way to end a year that celebrates women and Bowie Community Theatre has selected five amazing women to help finish that celebration.
Running Time: 95 minutes with no intermission
The Women of Lockerbie plays through March 17, 2019 with Bowie Community Theatre at the Bowie Playhouse in White Marsh Park— 16050 White Marsh Park Drive in Bowie, MD. For tickets please call the box office at (301) 805-0219 or purchase them online.