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Beatrice Zeilinger, Anna Hagan, Meaghan Chenosky

American playwright Edward Albee wrote Three Tall Women in the 1990’s, winning a 1994 Pulitzer prize for Drama (his third), among other awards. According to Albee, the play, divided into two parts, is based on his adoptive mother but is also a discussion into the meaning of life.

The first act takes place inside a woman’s bedroom with two people visiting: her caregiver, a woman in her fifties, and her lawyer’s assistant, a woman in her twenties. The visitors question the value of life when at the end all that is left is a mind affected by dementia—angry, sad, and unable to keep facts straight.

Beatrice Zeilinger, Meaghan Chenosky, Anna Hagan
[Beatrice Zeilinger, Meaghan Chenosky, Anna Hagan]

The second act sees the three women presiding over the bed that holds the elderly woman from the first act, who is now in a coma nearing death. The women are representative of the dying woman in her 20’s, 50’s, and 70’s. The three discuss the merits of their collective life. The youngest of the three expresses dismay that she settled for a loveless marriage. The middle-aged woman defends her actions, and the elderly woman expresses acceptance of her life. The play ends with a bold statement about the happiest moment in the now-elderly woman’s life. 

The play is well acted by all three women: Anna Hagan, Beatrice Zeilinger, and Meaghan Chenosky. Three Tall Women focuses on dialogue — this production’s is crisp, clear, and delivered with conviction. Unintentional fumbling with bits of the dialogue was professionally incorporated as part of the speech habit of the characters.

Anna Hagan, Meaghan Chenosky, Beatrice Zeilinger
[Anna Hagan, Meaghan Chenosky, Beatrice Zeilinger]

Anna Hagan is convincing in her depiction of an aging woman frustrated with her loosening grasp on life. Beatrice Zeilinger depicts the midlife of a woman angry at her past and frustrated with where she is at present. Chenosky dances superbly between the arrogance and the naivety of the young. There is another character with no dialogue, played by Matt Rezneck, representing the dying woman’s estranged son.

Three Tall Women is directed by Terrence Kelly and is presented by Western Gold Theatre, a Vancouver-based company whose aim is to foster roles and participation of seniors in theatre, including mentoring young actors. Three Tall Women leaves much for the audience to think about and ponder about their own lives and this production delivers that message superbly.  

Three Tall Women continues at the PAL Studio Theatre in Coal Harbour through November 9.

Photos by Tim Matheson.

About Our Contributor MJ Ankenman

MJ Ankenman

MJ moved to Vancouver in 2005 and has been keeping busy ever since, enjoying all that the West coast has to offer, sharing discoveries through her writing and photography. MJ’s interests include yoga, biking, hiking, and enjoying BC wine. Follow MJ on Twitter @urbanista.

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