A Loss of Roses: In brief
Director Dan Wackerman and his revival-happy Peccadillo Theater Company offer a rare look at a 1959 flop by William Inge (Picnic, Bus Stop), in which an adult mama's boy is torn between filial love and the sexy filly who shows up at the door.
A Loss of Roses: Theater review by Helen Shaw
The 1959 run of William Inge’s A Loss of Roses flopped—and that was with Warren Beatty in the lead. Now, with even its stronger actors miscast, Dan Wackerman’s revival can’t quite reclaim the soapy drama from the rubbish heap, though in places, Inge’s three-hankie aesthetic still works its sadistic magic.
It’s a steamy summer during the Depression, and tension abounds between mother Helen (Deborah Hedwall) and grown son Kenny (Ben Kahre). She’s his gal—at least until Kenny’s onetime babysitter Lila (Jean Lichty) arrives, now a down-on-her-luck tent-show actor. Danger is everywhere, but more for the actors than the characters: Harry Feiner’s dirt-brown set barely leaves room for performers (though he includes a ravishing Midwestern sky), and Lichty’s dreadful wig threatens to suffocate her in her sleep. There are diamonds in the dust, though. Hedwall is tremendous (if playing too matronly), and Kahre shows promise. It’s our poor, Blanche DuBois–esque heroine who is the sticking point. Lila overemphasizes and vamps, yet strikes too few sparks from Kenny; Lichty (also coproducing) has chosen a role even that old torturer Inge wouldn’t have her play.—Theater review by Helen Shaw
THE BOTTOM LINE A rarity from William Inge fails to bloom.