This review has been reposted courtesy of the League of Cincinnati Theatres. For more LCT reviews click here to visit their reviews page.
The current production by the cozy Falcon Theatre of Newport is a play written by R.T. Robinson titled The Cover of Life. Life is the famous Life magazine, yet the lives developed and enlarged in this play bring out the realities and the complex conflicts of the women of the Cliffert family in 1943 Louisiana.
Tood, Weestie and Sybil are the three wives married to the three Cliffert brothers. All three brothers are away, engaged in World War II. To save on expenses, the three wives move into the Cliffert family home with Aunt Ola Cliffert, the mother of the three Cliffert boys. Life begins on stage at this point when Kate Miller, a journalist fresh from the frontline, is assigned by Life magazine to cover the story of these three brides of the military family. Kate Miller is supercilious and, therefore, reluctant to visit the rural Louisiana; yet she accepts the assignment, since this would present her with the opportunity to do a cover story for famous Life magazine.
From the very moment of Kate’s arrival at the Cliffert residence the lives of the women, including Aunt Ola Cliffert, continue to unfold. This is by no means just a flat story of wartime wives who are waiting for their husbands to return home while somehow surviving. The lives of these women gradually end up depicting the life stories of women in general. This is where the playwright crafts an extraordinarily powerful revelation through wisdom, insight, and humor which otherwise could have been a bland saga of overflowing emotion.
Though nowhere in the playbill, Falcon Theatre gave credit to the playwright. Through the penmanship of the playwright R.T. Robinson the story was covered in such a lively manner. There was an incredibly strong cast who worked well off of each other. I give the praise for that to the director, Tracy M. Schoster. She made certain the emotional core of each of the characters came through loud and clear. Although I wasn’t blown away by this production, I enjoyed it. The play has a powerful and empowering message that gender roles hurt everybody, not just women, and that only when we question what everyone else accepts as “the way it is” can we become awakened. I loved that aspect of the play and thought the actors did a good job of conveying the message.
The lighting and set were stark and didn’t add very much. Monmouth Theatre, though very cozy and intimate, poses some challenges for a very elaborate light design. The set was too busy for a small stage, however, it reflected the thoughtfulness of Tracy M. Schoster, who was also the set designer for the play. The production was well directed by her , skillfully moving between the set piece of the living room to various other scenes on the small Falcon stage. One suggestion would be to be a bit more thoughtful about the smooth flow between the scenes, as they appeared to be somewhat abrupt. The costume design by Tara Williams, who also enacted the character of Kate Miller, was appropriately dated for the period, although they seemed to have more clothes than their financial situation would allow.
Overall, it was a warm presentation by the Falcon team and the entire cast and crew are to be given appreciation. Barring a few silly mistakes in dialogue delivery the characters did a superb job in making the audience believe in their authentic southern accent through and through. The cast demonstrated great team work from a small team where many wear more than one hat, promote and to spread value in theatre. The Cover of Life is to be highly recommended for all audiences because of the message it conveys and the energy from the actors onstage.
For more information on the production, click here.