November 18, 2011


Michelle Jasso (Mom) and daughter Tillie. Courtesy Photo


Beatrice (mother) and her two daughters (Ruth and Tillie) has to deal with a mother who takes everything out on the daughters. Let’s face it…the whole family is dysfunctional. The Mother drinks a lot, and becomes edgy and angry with each drop of booze.

One daughter has epileptic fits…maybe to escape the reality of her life. The other daughter is treated like so much garbage. The mother makes fun of her and favors the epileptic daughter.

Tillie is the weakest in the family. She is shoved into a closet so to speak. “Gamma Rays” has great, revealing plotting that takes you on a trip to the moon where Tillie hopes to go. The use of lighting and symbolism are the features that really keep you clued to this story.

Paul Zindel won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for his play.  And he deserves it.  Zindel has written many works that explore the lives of parents that are crazy and alcoholic. Well, you will be intoxicated with this brutal story.

“Gamma Rays” truly gives great insight into a parent that has abusive traits. There is not any physical violence – but sometimes ‘mental brutality’ is worse.

STARS ARE BORN in this production of “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds.”

HERE THEY ARE: Michelle Jasso (Mother) – “Dynamic” – Julia Belanoff – (Tillie) “Rare, memorable performance” – Alona Bach (Ruth) “Vibrant Compelling” – A.J. Davenport (Nanny) “Brilliant!” – Michelle Ang (Janice) – “Excellent!” THEY ARE ALL FIRING ON THESPIAN CYLINDERS!”

Dynamic Directing by Katja Rivera – Fascinating lighting design, by Dena Burd and terrific sound design, by Maxx Kurzunski.

You won’t want to miss this “Deeply moving and heartbreaking play.” 

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he has produced a long running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

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