Theater Review: ‘Ann’

By: 
Ben Miles
HOLLAND TAYLOR as iconic Texas governor Ann Richards in the play “Ann.”

Holland Taylor has devoted considerable time and craft in writing and performing her one-person show based on a modern American political icon. The mono-bio is titled “Ann” and is based on the life and times of former Texas governor Ann Richards.

Though intended as a live performance and scheduled to be staged at the Pasadena Playhouse this year, the corona plague made other plans necessary. Thankfully, PBS’s Great Performances showcase has made viewing Ms. Taylor’s lively portrayal of Ann Richards possible by airing a live performance of “Ann” taped four years ago in Austin, the Texas state capital. What’s more, watching the play cost nothing more than access to PBS On Demand, although donations to the Public Broadcasting Service are encouraged.

By viewing the two-hour mono-drama, not only are we easily engaged in the pleasant, albeit in-your-face persona of Ms. Richards, we are stunned by the detail and wit (in scripting), as well as the recall required of Ms. Taylor and the energy in delivery expended by the actor in performance. It’s no wonder that “Ann” garnered a Tony Award nomination in 2013 for Ms. Taylor.

Directed for the stage by Benjamin Endsley Kline with a straightforwardness worthy of the authenticity associated with Ms. Richards and a formidable set design by Michael Fagin, Ms. Richards’s life is conveyed to us from the time Ms. Richards was a child – loved by her salesman father but under the constant scrutiny of a critical mother – through her marriage to attorney David Richards (after giving birth to four children the marriage ended in divorced), through her addiction to alcohol (a rare disclosure for politicians to make in Ms. Richards’s day), to her election as county commissioner and onto her election as governor of the Lone Star State (1995-1991).

Although Ms. Richards died in 2006, a fitting epitaph is given to the former governor by Ms, Taylor, while in character as Ms. Richards. It is a satisfying denouement to the play and to the history-making life of Ann Richards – Democrat, Texas Governor, and personality as big and as legendary as Texas itself.

“Ann” can be accessed anytime at PBS On Demand.

ben@beachcomber.news

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