Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

Cypress College’s Little Women is quaint to behold and provides brief glimpses of pleasure but is ultimately joyless and gives the impression that the actors are in over their heads –or at the very least need more time to prepare.

Little Women (based off of the novel by Louisa May Alcott) is the story of author Jo March’s childhood with her headstrong and affectionate sisters.  As Jo grows up, we get to watch the evolution of her life with her family and friends.  Inspired by Alcott herself, Jo is somewhat more “masculine” than is expected during the 19th century.  This is reflected in her demeanor, comportment, and her relationships.

The theater is fairly intimate, so it isn’t difficult to see  everything that is happening onstage.  One might get a seat that is off to the side of all the action, but the clarity of the voices and the close proximity to the performers makes it easy to comprehend the story.  Visually the set is pretty to behold. It’s made up to look like a nice living room set in 1860s America.  Except in the instance of some brief lighting changes, the wooden floors appear to be mostly blue.  Essentially it gives the play a wintry feel, which given that the majority of the story takes place in winter, is both enjoyable and appropriate.  Looking at the elegant costumes and blueish 1860s house, it all seems reminiscent of one of those giant, old dollhouses that some museums display. Undoubtedly, the set is one of the show’s better qualities.

For the first 20 minutes or so of Act I the actors are consistently interrupting each other.  It’s possible this is deliberate and meant to lend authenticity to the family dialogue.  It doesn’t.  It looks like the actors are tripping over each other and their lines.  Throughout the play the emotions that should be present are not.  There is a lot of monotony when there shouldn’t be. Even when the performers seem invested, they don’t appear to be invested in one another.  Instead of reading another person’s behavior and responding accordingly, they have decided how their specific character is going to act –appropriate character interactions be hanged.  As a result even the most dramatic moments don’t really mesh well with the rest of the story.

There are a few instances of fun.  One of the most interesting parts of the play (sadly near the beginning) is when one character destroys another character’s property via the fireplace.  Ashley Love’s (Amy March) petulance in this scene is right on point.  And Megan Walker (Jo March) has clear passion and excitement for her role.  There is a lot of pressure on her to perform, and from beginning to end her investment and commitment to the story is clear. The other performer who is clearly “on” the entire time is Armando Torres as Laurie.  Both Walker and Torres are focused and energized.  They make their scenes more enjoyable.

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