Fringe 2017 – – The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds  – Review by GRAHAM HICKS 4 of 5 stars

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds 

Plain JaneTheatre

Venue 3, Walterdale Theatre, 10322 83 Ave. 

Fri. Aug. 18 – 8:45 p.m.
Sat. Aug. 19 – 2:30 p.m.
Mon. Aug. 21 – 7:15 p.m.
Wed. Aug. 23 – 12 noon
Sat. Aug. 26 – 4:30 p.m.

Duration: 90 minutes

4 of 5 stars

Every Fringe needs its classic American dysfunctional family psycho-drama play – of which there are many.  Because the roles are wonderfully meaty for the actors and the plays have stood up for decade upon decade.  Plus there’s a need on the audience’s part to balance out the silliness and zaniness of most Fringe Festival shows with some sobriety, serious acting and serious reflection.

The Effect of Gamma Rays  on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is a classic, detailing the breakdown of an American family through the embittered mother Beatrice, the mentally unbalanced and rebellious older daughter Matilda and the youngest daughter Ruth, painfully shy, studious and capable of redemption.

Classic enough that 31 years ago, Kate Ryan, who plays mother Beatrice in this show – played young Ruth. Kate’s mother Maralyn Ryan was Beatrice in that 1986 Fringe production. Kate’s sister Bridget was Matilda. And now, 31 years later, Kate’s daughter Emma Wilmott is playing Ruth.

Nobody got in this show based on family ties.  All the acting is first-rate. Under the fine direction of Amy DeFelice, full justice is done to this towering script.

Emma Wilmott has made such a fully-believable Ruth that you weep at her stoic acceptance of her mother’s abuse, and soar with her ending optimism-against-all-odds speech. Sadie Bowling hits all the right notes as the rebellious older daughter – her timing in delivering the final verbal cuts to her raging but lost mother was perfect.  Most remarkable was real-life elderly Helen Klemm playing the ancient boarder Nanny – never was so much said, without any words whatsoever. 

Part of the fun of being a long-rooted audience member within Edmonton’s theatre community is to see the evolution of local actors over decades.

Kate Ryan – so optimistic, pretty, full of good cheer and good voice – has been seen in dozens upon dozens of  ingénue roles over the years. Now she has matured and grown into tackling some of the great middle-aged female roles that require all that past experience to do them full justice … and full justice to the indomitable, bitter, hurt, mean-spirited, psychologically damaged Beatrice she gives. 

A meaty show, an American psychological classic, delivered by an outstanding cast and director.