This season, Profile Theatre has dedicated themselves to presenting the works of playwright Wendy Wasserstein—and if a series of sold-out runs is any indication, Wasserstein strikes a chord with Portland audiences.
Wasserstein was committed to documenting the experiences of intelligent, ambitious women, and in a town in which the number of talented actresses far exceeds the number of interesting roles, exploring Wasserstein's catalogue seems like an inspired choice. As she herself said in the intro to The Sisters Rosensweig, "I have known many actresses whose career opportunities diminished because they made the grievous error of growing older. Therefore I deliberately set out to write smart and funny parts for women over 40."
Wasserstein's efforts are realized in Profile's production. The four women in the cast play intelligent, iconoclastic characters who are all attractive in ways that have nothing to do with their sex appeal. Barbara Kerr steals the show as Sara Goode, née Rosensweig, an American ex-pat living in London who's made her fortune in international banking. Sara's birthday brings her two younger sisters to London to celebrate: Globetrotting Pfeni (the flamboyant Amanda Soden) is a journalist-turned-travel-writer, while Gorgeous (Karla Mason) is a housewife and "radio personality" (she hosts a call-in advice show). The three sisters have recently lost their mother, and all are struggling to some degree with reconciling the women they are with the women their mother wanted them to be.
Empowered women struggle with relationships, too, and a primary theme is reconciling grownup self-hood with the peculiar tendencies of love: Pfeni is in love with a gay man (Leif Norby), while Sara's British reserve is shaken when she meets the very Jewish Mervyn Kant (Robert Klein), who is just the type of man her mother would've wanted her to marry.
There's really no weak link here: All of the actors do a fine job under Jane Unger's sensible direction. All told, Sisters is persistently engaging, sharp, and witty—just like the titular characters themselves.