Sins of the Mother

Originally posted May 5, 2012

Little ol’ Tucson is finally getting big time theater – and it isn’t coming from Broadway in Tucson with their road shows.  For years, DBH (Dearly Beloved Husband) and I have been avid theater goers.  Not the several times a year variety, but several times a month.  We call it “toad kissing”.  We are happy to see the no-name performers and writers to find the prince that sometimes lurks in a theater with no curtain, folding chairs and “Pay what you can Thursdays”. 

Beowulf Alley Theatre has had a rough season.  Play selection has been spotty, acting inconsistent within a production, direction and timing off in plays that require spot-on action.  But we have stayed with it – mostly because we sometimes find princes.

Sins of the Mother by Israel Horovitz is a prince.  The production features four talented performers – one of them wickedly so, Ken Beider.  His role is twin brothers, cast asunder by the sins of their brawling parents.  No, he does not play them simultaneously through the miracle of digital imaging.  One brother, central to the first act, is murdered.  The other brother carries the second and third acts, resolving and dissolving the family feud. 

The situation, pacing and dialogue reminded me of Arthur Miller, though Horovitz says he is strongly influenced by Samuel Beckett (remind me to see more Beckett).  There is a lot of drama, humor, violence, a few strong words, but mostly an engrossing unfolding of tragedy – and mysteries that are not all neatly tied up by the end of the evening.

We also enjoyed returning to a favorite downtown eatery, The Hub.  Great food, excellent service, very reasonable prices and two blocks from the theater.  There were four in our party and we fell upon the “French fries (cooked in lard, of course) topped with blue cheese, served au jus” for our appetizer.  $7.  Magnificent.  I always get their souped-up hot dog, served with home-made sauerkraut and lean pastrami.  DBH chose to dine solely on mac and cheese with bacon.  There are no “cheap and cheerful” beers at The Hub (like a Bud Lite), only brew-pub styles.  I’m not too fond of most of these, as I enjoy lagers.  Our waiter recommended (and brought me a taste of) Scrimshaw, a pilsner on draft from North Coast Brewing in CA.  Delicious.  The Hub also make over 30 flavors of ice cream.  We ended our meal with a taste of Bourbon Brickle. 

© 2013

Radium Girls by D. W. Gregory

Originally published April 23, 2012  Beowulf Theater, Tucson

radium girls.jpg

How many times have we moistened a small print brush by wetting it in our mouths?  Maybe not so many times as an adult, but likely often as a child.  Shortly after the turn of the 19th century, radium, a key component of a “glow in the dark” paint called Undark, was used to illuminate watches and controls on machines used in WWI.  Employees of US Radium, mostly women war-workers, were encouraged by their employer to moisten their paint brushes in their mouths to obtain the very fine point needed for the numbers and letters they were painting.  Most of these women later developed radium poisoning, suffering terrible disfigurement of the mouth and jaw and eventually dying.

US Radium hid the poisonous nature of radium from their employees, even though they were so aware of its devastating effects that management used lead shields when handling the paint.  Radium Girls is a sad and effective play about several of these women who filed a class action suit against US Radium, eventually getting a small settlement to offset medical bills, but virtually nothing was paid to them.  This proved to be one of landmark cases that eventually led to worker protection on the job.  Read more about it at

This is an important play for young people to see who were born in the OSHA world and don’t know about the workers who gave their lives and the employers who took their lives seeking the almighty dollar.  It is one thing to knowingly take a risk in personal or work endeavors.  It’s another when your employer egregiously deceives you regarding the risk of your job. 

Beowulf did a nice job with the play.  I admire their productions, as all on stage and behind stage are volunteers.  It takes a lot of dedication and energy.