THEATER REVIEW: WAM Theatre Presents “Ann” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Macey Levin
Photograph by David Dashiell
Ann Richards has become an almost legendary character in a relatively short amount of time. She was the second female governor of Texas, serving from 1991-1995, as a Democrat in a highly conservative state. Her colorful life has been brought to the stage by playwright Holland Taylor and is being performed in a one-woman show, Ann, by Jayne Atkinson, produced by WAM Theatre at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Theatre in Lenox.
The play begins with excerpts from her keynote speech at the Democratic Convention in Atlanta in 1988 which introduced her to the rest of the country. The play then shifts to her delivering a commencement speech at an unnamed college. She reviews her early life with a multitude of humorous anecdotes and an occasional aphorism as advice to the students. She tells us (the audience are the graduates) about her childhood, her marriage which ends in divorce, her alcoholism and gratitude to AA, her four children, her entrance into politics as the county chairman and then state treasurer before becoming governor.
With a change of scenery, she takes office and a change of personality as we watch a day in her life as the state’s chief executive. Through this day she has conversations and arguments with staff members concerning serious issues: a woman’s right to choose, gun control, diversity, capital punishment, gay rights and more. Integrated with politics and government is a series of telephone calls involving a family outing which has caused conflict among her children.