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Theater | Stage Review

Going 'Another' Round

Nasty 'Little Foxes' clan returns in engaging version of drama's prequel.

November 05, 1998|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Those awful Hubbards are back in "Another Part of the Forest," the prequel to Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes," both of which are now in repertory at A Noise Within.

One can intellectually justify enjoying these juicy family dramas because they provoke serious thoughts about their historical milieu. "Another Part" is set in Alabama in 1880, 20 years before "Foxes," and in both plays we see the antebellum South fading fast in response to the changing postwar economy.

All well and good, but in fact these plays are most engaging for the same reason that "Dallas" gripped the nation--it's fun to watch fictional rich families cut each other up.

It's also fun to watch actors in a repertory company tackle the same role, or related roles, in two plays, especially when they're done as stylishly as they are here, under the direction of Julia Rodriguez Elliott and Geoff Elliott.

Two of the three Hubbard siblings are played by the same actors in both plays. Geoff Elliott's Ben and Stephen Rockwell's Oscar have darker hair and fewer wrinkles in "Another Part," and they exude more restlessness and impulsiveness.

Their younger sister, Regina, is portrayed in "Another Part" by Jennifer Erin Roberts, who's in splendid form as a daddy's girl, carefully learning the craft of craftiness. We saw her as Regina's 17-year-old daughter in "Foxes."

Deborah Strang, who plays Regina in "Foxes," plays Regina's foggy mother in "Another Part"--a diametrically different character, full of do-good chatter as a way of ignoring her woeful status in the household. Strang pulls off the metamorphosis with complete clarity.

The patriarch, who's not in "Foxes," is one of the central roles in "Another Part." The role is in the assured hands of Mitchell Edmonds, whose outer impassiveness melts only when he's in the presence of his daughter. Even when he loses the game at the end, Edmonds keeps a stiff upper lip, as if part of him is silently proud of his son's shrewd gamesmanship.

Jill Hill repeats her "Foxes" turn as Birdie, though it's not quite as prominent here. Robert Pescovitz and Hisa Takakuwa play the supposedly true loves of Regina and Oscar, respectively. Pescovitz's anguished veteran is so frozen in lost causes that one begins to appreciate the Hubbards' antagonism toward him, while Takakuwa's rowdy lady of the night creates a rich comic contrast with the Hubbards' pretensions.

BE THERE

"Another Part of the Forest," A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Sunday, 2 p.m.; Nov. 12, 13, 18, 21 and 27, 8 p.m.; Nov. 15 and 29, 7 p.m.; Nov. 22 and 28, 2 p.m. $24-$28. (818) 546-1924. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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