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Barter play explores consequences of a split-second decision

Staff Report • May 8, 2013 at 9:18 AM

When Rhonda Russell’s husband of more than 17 years calls to tell her he’s moved out, it sets in motion a series of events that no one could have predicted.

“The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead,” opening May 10 at Barter Stage II in Abingdon, Va., explores how the decision of a moment can have far-reaching and startling consequences.

As Australian playwright Robert Hewett’s story unfolds in interview style, seven different characters — each played by Barter audience favorite Tricia Matthews — reveal new details about the fateful day Rhonda went berserk at the mall.

“This play is the patchwork story of a scandal that shakes up a suburban town and seven people, of varied ages and gender, whose lives are changed forever by jealousy and a fallen ice cream cone at a shopping mall,” said director Susanne Boulle. “Can seven people tell ‘the truth,’ yet each claim to have witnessed such different facts? Then where does the truth lie? Is our point of view so colored by our prejudices, our insecurities and the stereotypes we assume about others, that ‘truth’ is merely relative to our concept of self? Can something as superficial as the color of our hair influence our life journey? Or does society dictate our role within it based on such superficial qualities as the color of our hair?”

Everyone has a completely different story to tell about that day, the events leading up to it and what happened afterwards. Who is to blame? Is it the jealous wife, the friend who eggs her on or that blonde in the jewelry store? How about the husband who won’t open up about anything?

“I think people are going to be surprised by this piece. It is funny, moving, thought provoking and very much a theatrical event,” said Matthews, who Boulle calls “a one-woman tour-de-force.”

“I believe the audience will be blown away by the honesty she brings to each and every one of these complex characters,” Boulle said. “She breathes life into each of these people and each one of them is full of the thoughts, habits and idiosyncrasies that make every human being unique.”

“The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead,” playing through Aug. 10, is sponsored in part by the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, viamedia and Voice Magazine for Women. Barter Theatre is funded in part by the National Endowment of the Arts and the Virginia Commission of the Arts.

Due to its mature themes and language, the show is recommended for patrons age 17 and o l d e r. Tickets are $27, $32 and $34.

To purchase tickets or for more information, call Barter’s box office at 276-628-3991 or visit www.bartertheatte.com.

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