Burns and Murray Review “Edith,” at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage [Berkshire on Stage]
by Gail Burns and Larry Murray. For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings visit GailSez.org.
Larry Murray: Finally, a totally satisfying play about marriage and politics. And it had no compromises. Edith is a new play by Kelly Masterson, and it gets a first class production under the steady hand of director Michael Sexton. Its cast of eight is uniformly wonderful, but it is Jayne Atkinson who rules the stage in the title role of Edith, the second wife of Woodrow Wilson.
Gail Burns: Avid Berkshire theatre-goers may remember this play from the Berkshire Playwright’s Lab reading last summer at the Mahaiwe which also featured Atkinson and Jack Gilpin who returns to play President Wilson.
Larry: Atkinson’s Edith was, as the few books about her life tell us, flamboyant, fashionable and confident of her political and management abilities. Yet she was an elegant and controlled “First Lady,” a title she abhorred, preferring to be called Mrs. Woodrow Wilson during the war years.
Gail: Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) was our 28th President serving two terms in office from 1913 to 1921. His first wife, Ellen, died in 1914. Nine months later his personal physician Cary Grayson (played by Stephen Skybell) introduced him to the widow Edith Bolling Galt (1872-1961) and they were married later that year, a mere 16 months after his first wife passed away.
Needless to say, this didn’t sit too well with Wilson’s three 20-something daughters. The younger two were already married and raising small children, but Margaret (Samantha Soule), the eldest, who remained single and childless all her life, lived at the White House, and had acted a First Lady following her mother’s death, was especially distressed by the acquisition of an opiniated stepmother.