When’s the last time you saw a show about two young women recovering from past traumas, and two frisky, cantankerous goats? I’ll bet it’s been a while.
In Sacramento’s Capital Stage's “Alabaster,” the woman who owns these goats often talks to them. The unusual thing is, the goats talkback, and in fact, one of them offers sarcastic remarks throughout the play.
But while the smart-aleck goats can be quite funny, “Alabaster” is not all about barnyard games. The two young women in the story carry emotional scars from personal tragedies, and one carries physical scars all over her body.
In one scene, one of the women numbly recalls losing her composure after a devastating personal loss. The saucy commentary comes from a talking goat.
Woman: I didn’t work for a long time after the accident.
Goat: Like, a really long time.
Woman: I just couldn’t get my footing
Goat: Two bottles a day!
Woman: And then, there was rehab
Goat: Three failed rehabs, two DUIs, and a night in the county jail.
Woman: I lost a few days.
Goat: But the mug shot was amazing! Am I right?
Actress Stephanie Altholz, wearing gruesome make-up that takes two hours to apply, appears in plays all over town. Actress Susan Maris, on the other hand, is a seasoned pro appearing here for the first time. They each play women struggling with many painful memories.
In other scenes actresses Amy Kelly and Janet Motenko provide a delightful counterpoint as the goats, with Kelly demonstrating a dramatic range that she isn’t often called on to display in the broad comic parts in which she’s typically cast. Motenko is both hilariously funny and touchingly pitiable as the aging, ailing old goat who’s clearly in failing health.
Playwright Audrey Cefaly works in plenty of strong material and structures her story with skill. Director Kirstin Clippard keeps the pace brisk, and is adroit at balancing the discussions of tragedies in the past as well as the occasionally raunchy observations from the goats.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen another play that’s quite like “Alabaster,” and it makes for a good evening out.
“Alabaster” continues through Feb. 23 at Capital Stage in Sacramento.
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