Green with Envy
by Adrienne Proctor
Adapted and directed by Kate Adams, Clyde Fitch’s The Girl with the Green Eyes opens 2023 at 3rd Act Theatre Company. The play stars Jillian Wheeler as Jinny, Peter Fischaber as Jack, Elizabeth Garrison as Mrs. Tillman, Doug Carlton as Mr. Tillman, Tyler John Malinauskas as Geoff, Lana Henson as Mrs. Cullingham, and Kendra Michal Johnson as Maggie. Izabella Stout is Belle, Maddie Wall is Grace, and Lexi Sendall is Ruth.
Jinny and Jack get married and honeymoon in Rome, much to the delight of their family and friends. Trouble starts before they’ve even arrived home, however, and it seems to follow the young couple wherever they go. Jinny struggles with self-proclaimed jealousy, and senses something is going on with Jack. Jack is indeed harboring a secret, one that he refuses to relent for fear of ruining his wife’s social status. Originally penned and staged in the early 1900s, the play has been modernized to an extent by Adams. The modernization doesn’t improve the problematic themes, and the actors are working against an unforgiving plotline.
The cast does work well together despite the abusive and unlikable nature of the main characters. Jack spends the majority of the play gaslighting and condescending his new wife and driving her into a state that threatens her mental well-being. Likewise, Jinny works herself into a frenzy and escalates a situation that could endanger her marriage – or worse.
The play is fraught with tropes that existed in the early 1900s. However, one of the most eye-opening elements of this show is that these tropes and stereotypes still exist today. As much as we pride ourselves on the progress of our society, there is much left to learn and far still to go. That is the convicting element of this play; whatever happens to Jinny in the end, the audience knows they’re at least a little complicit.
There are not many places in the theatre world where it’s safe to explore such dangerous art anymore. 3rd Act handles everything with care and the audience is in good hands with this one. If there’s anywhere it’s okay or allowed to feel these uncomfortable feelings and watch these difficult moments play out, it’s here in this space.
The audience is also in good hands with this cast and director. Wheeler and Fischaber spar and banter, both with love and vitriol. They’re strong players and each holds their own. Fischaber can be cruel, almost menacing. But Wheeler is no doormat, and she finds the strength to carry herself through, despite all that she’s up against.
One of the loveliest performers in Oklahoma City is Lexi Sendall. She’s had the stage presence of a pro since she was in high school, and now that she’s out in the “real world”, she brings that quiet calm and self-assurance to bigger and more challenging roles.
Garrison and Carlton are always wonderful to see on 3rd Act’s stage. They play the roles of doting, yet concerned, parents and are dazzling on stage. Malinauskas performs well as Geoff, albeit in an unlikeable role. Johnson is sturdy as Maggie, innocent yet clear-eyed. Henson is a staple on 3rd Act’s Stage and completes the family-like feel of this cast.
Maddie Wall and Izabella Stout have fun in their roles and keep their scenes light despite the difficult subject matter.
Costume design by 3rd Act Artistic Director Christine Jolly and Director Adams is brilliant. It’s simply perfect for each character. This set is also one of the more striking for 3rd Act. The soft greens and golds on the simple stage bring it to life and make it look inviting and fresh.
The Girl with the Green Eyes comes with a needed trigger warning. This show does involve discussion and a brief portrayal of self-harm. Proceed with care, as always. It’s important to remember our role in each other’s lives and to be mindful of how we speak to each other. For that reason, this play remains relevant. Something as simple as a negative thought, turned inward and amplified by those who are supposed to love us, can have drastic, even deadly consequences.
3rd Act’s Noire production of The Girl with the Green Eyes runs through February 12th, 2023 at their mainstage location in The Shoppes at Northpark. Masks are required. Drinks from the To-Go menu at the bar at Hacienda Tacos are allowed in the space. Purchase tickets here.