Holland Taylor – currently most famous for playing the monstrous mother Evelyn on TV’s Two and a Half Men – has profound skills as a stage actress. So profound, in fact that she disappears almost entirely into the character of Democratic Texas Governor Ann Richards in the bio-play Ann. This one-woman show, which Taylor also wrote, began as a way for Taylor to understand what it was about this housewife turned politician patriot that affected her – and so many other people – so deeply.
Directed with a sharp eye by Benjamin Endsley Klein, Ann glides skillfully through serveral times and points of view, starting with a graduation speech in which Richards peppers her words of wisdom to the students with vivid stories from her life. We then shift – in a transition between set pieces seamlessly handled by set designer Michael Fagin – to Richards’ office in the governor’s mansion, where she blazes through phone calls to people as varied as her grandaughter Lily and then-Predient Bill Clinton. In between calls she mercilessly works her assistant Nancy Kohler (caustically voiced by Julie White).
While Taylor the writer got to the soul of Richards, it’s Taylor the actress who really gives Ann wings. Too the governor’s barbed wit, deep compassion and commanding intellect, Taylor adds her own electric charisma, even larger than Richards’s. And it certaily helps that wig designer Paul Huntley has nailed the “Republican hair” of this famously liberal pol.
I’m not sure this above-average one-person show is for everybody. It really depends on whether you like certain things: one-person shows in general, politics and Holland Taylor. I love all three, so I had a marvellous time!
For tickets, click here.