Little Women

Theater, Drama
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
Little Women
Photograph: Courtesy James Leynse

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Theater review by Raven Snook

Kate Hamill’s crowd-pleasing stage version of Little Women at Primary Stages reimagines Louisa May Alcott's beloved 19th-century coming-of-age tale through a modern lens. They may wear modest period costumes (by Valérie Thérèse Bart) and talk about the raging Civil War, but the four March sisters grapple with many of the same issues that young women do today as they try to find their way in life and love within strict constraints of gender and class. 

As in most screen and stage incarnations of the book, the de facto protagonist is the tomboyish aspiring writer Jo. Kristolyn Lloyd is marvelous in the role, sporting a manly suit and gait as she alternately collaborates and clashes with her siblings and the boy next door, Laurie (Nate Mann). The other sisters are portrayed in broad strokes, at times even crossing into camp, but it mostly works. Hamill's high-strung Meg is a hoot, and Carmen Zilles's vain Amy manages to be more amusing than annoying. Only Paola Sanchez Abreu's too-saintly Beth feels one-dimensional (an issue that stems from the source material). 

During the play’s first fabulous act, director Sarna Lapine keeps the episodic tale moving swiftly and smoothly as the cast leans into the humor without sacrificing the heart. Act II, by comparison, seems rushed and disjointed—and, perhaps, a little too woke. Hamill takes significant liberties with Alcott’s plot, and her version of Jo, though politically pleasing, is so in touch with her sexuality and gender identity that she sometimes seems out of place in the world of the story being told. Yet the talented women associated with this production, both on stage and off, sustain its magic for so long that it seems ungrateful to belittle them.

Cherry Lane Theatre (Off Broadway). By Kate Hamill. Directed by Sarna Lapine. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 10mins. One intermission.

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By: Raven Snook

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