For the most part, politicians rarely provide a revealing look at the person behind the political rhetoric. Instead they communicate packaged ideas meticulously targeted to voter groups to ensure support for their legislative agendas. This calculated disconnect has fostered a pervading feeling of cynicism about politicians in general. Yet on rare occasions, a public servant emerges to disrupt the status quo. For a brief moment in time in the1980s, a fiery, cantankerous white-plumed comet streaked across the political landscape and her name was Ann Richards, Governor of Texas.
Governor Ann Richards was a larger than life inspirational touchstone for women. Quick witted and unflappable, she represented how sheer audacity, determination and hard work could overcome adversity. in Holland Taylor’s play “Ann” which opened recently at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on Broadway, audiences are given an inside look into the backstory of Ann Richard’s life as well as the daily dynamics of her time in office. Although touching upon the politics of the her tenure as Governor, the focus of the Taylor’s performance resonates more as a tribute to Ann Richards, the strong woman and mother.Holland Taylor, a screen and theatre actress best known to current fans of the television series “Two and a Half Men”, wrote and stars in “Ann” which in essence is a one-woman show. The trouble with the production lies in its duration. “Ann” resembles more of a one act play that’s been stretched out to a full length performance. There are moments which quickly devolve into incoherent rambling in the first half of the show, especially during the phone scenes in the governor’s office. The latter half of the production has a tighter feel which allows the audience to be fully engaged and ultimately more endeared with Ann Richards. To Taylor’s credit, her lovingly crafted performance as Ann Richard will leave theater goers convinced they’ve actually met the Governor in real life. We discover the enormity of Ann Richard’s heart, her sharp mind, her embrace of the profane and the profound.
Whether by design or not, the scenes at the governor’s office had a sitcom like quality to them. Often manic in pacing as well as consistently amusing in language and action, Taylor embodied every nuance and mannerism of the Governor of Texas. Audience members seeking an in depth political exploration of Governor Ann Richards will ultimately be disappointed. Instead her political achievements are handled in a simplistic fashion as streams of consciousness during phone conversations or spoken aloud as passing thoughts to the audience.
“Ann” draws its strength from the focus on Richards’ personal life. We’re given insight to her integral relationship with her father who she credits with shaping her formidable personality. We also learn about her trials and tribulations with alcoholism, divorce, and cancer as well as how motherhood defined and informed many of her decisions in public life. Overall, “Ann” demonstrates what happens when one’s life develops into a true calling.
Overall Rating: B+
Pros: Brilliant Acting. Several witty and engaging moments.
Cons: a One Act play stretched out into a Full Length performance.
Disclosure: CuteMonster.com was offered free tickets to view the show in exchange for a review. Opinions of the show are solely our own.
For more information about the play “Ann” or to purchase tickets to see the show, please visit their web site below: