Indeed, that was not the case. In quick storyline order, Richards found herself in Texas in the 1950s: she attended Baylor University; taught at school for some time; raised four children with her husband (and high school sweetheart), David, a prominent Austin civil rights lawyer; and she was “content to worship in her sanctuary” – at least until friends encouraged her to run for election as county commissioner.
She won that race, and over the next 15 years “on the political fast lane,” she also got divorced, and she struggled and overcame a drinking problem, to boot. She served as Texas state treasurer for eight years before being elected governor. Needless to say, the campaign was “stressful”. After all, as she puts it, “I was a divorced, alcoholic Democratic woman in Texas.”
At this point in the production of Thomas, the curtain behind Ross part to reveal the Governor’s office (set design by Michael Hidalgo). She takes her place behind the desk, and as the show goes on for an hour or more, we gradually lose the sense of rapport or direct connection to the character we felt during the graduation speech. diplomas. Suddenly, and literally, the room begins to phone everything, as it “herds” on various family members and staff in an endless series of calls.
There’s also some kind of running gag between Richards and his administrative assistant/invisible secretary, Nancy, that seems endless. It could have been fun to introduce this second character, who frantically moves in and out of the office to satisfy his boss’s every need or whim. As it stands, I couldn’t tell on opening night if there was anyone reading Nancy’s lines from behind the scenes, or if her dialogue had been pre-recorded. In any event, the exchanges were very poorly timed and executed, with plenty of Pinter-worthy pauses in conversation that were deadly.
It’s not the best sign in a solo show about gossip Ann Richards to catch her even temporarily at an apparent loss of words.
Until July 3. 8 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday; 3:00 p.m. on Sunday; 10:30 a.m. Wednesday (June 29). $15 to $34. ART Station, 5384 Manor Drive, Stone Mountain. 770-469-1105, www.artstation.org.
At the end of the line: Occasionally slow and stuffy, but otherwise well played by Clarinda Ross.