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Vyacheslav Nekrasov
Vyacheslav Nekrasov

Come Back, Little Sheba

The title refers to Lola's missing dog, who disappeared before the play's opening and remains gone throughout the story. Lola hopes for the puppy's return throughout the play by calling "Come back, little Sheba" daily from the front door, but eventually faces reality and gives up on Sheba's return.

Come Back, Little Sheba

We watch her wander pathetically from door to door, looking for the puppy, the "little Sheba," that escaped so long ago, much like her youth, her beauty and her love. As she begs for the pup and her dreams to "come back," she's a woman seemingly incapable of surviving in the real world -- but survive she does. And her transformation becomes all the more poignant as she summons up all the inner strength she can muster in her ultimate life or death moment to save herself and her husband. That's the Epatha we have come to know and love.

"S. Epatha Merkerson portrays this housebound wife of an alcoholic, in a performance that stops the heart." "Revitalizing production."Ben BrantleyNew York Times"An old-fashioned but still-engaging portrait of a strained marriage." & "The flaw in director Michael Pressman's production is that everything - set, clothes, even Lola herself - is too middle-class neat and tidy. That stuff might work on Wisteria Lane, but it goes against the core of this story."Joe DziemianowiczNew York Daily News"S. Epatha Merkerson is one of those actors who can bring a simple, challenging honesty to simple, unchallenging banality. That's just as well, because there's an awful lot of simple, unchallenging banality to go around in William Inge's 58-year-old pseudo-classic 'Come Back, Little Sheba.'" & "Michael Pressman's pedestrian staging is as adequate as the play deserves, and a miscast Merkerson makes an adorable Lola - sincere, compassionate and, well . . . miscast"Clive BarnesNew York PostTime hasn't been kind to "Come Back, Little Sheba," one of the big hits of the 1949-50 Broadway season." & "Of course, director Michael Pressman's miscast and generally flat production does not make the play look any better." & "Merkerson plausibly rattles away in a faintly southern accent as nice but clueless Lola.,,, Merkerson's dim bulb of a Lola appears merely pathetic." & "Like Lola's missing pooch mentioned in the title, the antiquated drama proves to be a dog without bark or bite."Michael SommersStar-Ledger"It is unlikely that anyone can make this obvious old soaper hold the stage today. Certainly, Merkerson is wasted trying." & "Merkerson, despite those winning dimples, simply seems too intelligent and secure to inhabit a woman who prattles to strangers and wanders around the messy bungalow (by James Noone) remembering yesterday's sexy dances."Linda WinerNewsDay"Ms. Merkerson, whose Tony-nominated turn in 1990's "The Piano Lesson" was instrumental in winning her the "Law & Order" role, has suffused this grasping, anxious housewife with a heart-splitting dose of optimism in Michael Pressman's gently stirring revival of Inge's 1950 drama." & "But for every little thing he gets wrong, Mr. Pressman gets the play's freighted, sputtering romance right. With a minimum of fuss, he has mounted a well-made production of a well-made play about primarily well-made men and women ï a stage genre that has been AWOL nearly as long as Little Sheba, Lola's beloved (and metaphorically overworked) little dog. But sometimes they come back after all, looking a little musty but welcome all the same. It's enough to bring a smile to one's face."Eric GrodeNew York Sun"What a difference casting makes! TV's popular policewoman, S. Epatha Merkerson, and a gifted stage actor, Kevin Anderson, together as a middle-aged married couple -- even a troubled one -- do not click." & "Merkerson is much older and older-looking than Anderson, who looks even younger than his years; they convey more of a mother-and-son than a marital relationship. Even their acting styles, suitable to their respective principal mediums, television and theater, do not effectively mesh." & "I don't believe I am betraying something you must surely have guessed, namely that Sheba, symbolically as well as logically, does not come back. Regrettably, I suspect that the same goes for the play."John SimonBloomberg"If casting is 90 percent of direction, the new production of "Come Back, Little Sheba" that opened last night at the Biltmore Theatre is a direction disaster." & "Merkerson is a gifted actress. Broadway should welcome her back in practically anything she chose. But the part of Lola, who spends most of the evening wearing an apron and moping about the kitchen, hardly seems an appropriate choice for her." & "They are miscast all in an almost perverse insistence on wrong choices, led by Merkerson, stuck playing poor Lola. This revival will do nothing to revive Inge's flagging reputation."Jacques le SourdJournal News"This production,.., wanly staged by Michael Pressman, never gets beyond small moments of poignancy. There's no sense of a strong director with a fresh perspective infusing energy into the material. Even the change of making the marriage interracial does little to quicken interest." & "One reason the ending is flat is that the director and performers never give us enough reason to care about Lola and Doc."Robert FeldbergThe Record"A fine production from Manhattan Theatre Club - "Sheba" delivers a heartbreaking portrait of a marriage dissolving in the disappointments of unrealized hopes and dreams." & "A fully realized Lola is the key to the success of "Sheba." Find an appealing, sympathetic actress to play the role, and you are halfway home." & "S. Epatha Merkerson,.., radiates genuine warmth and generosity. Lola is a nice yet needy woman, and nice isn't easy to pull off if neediness turns to whining. Merkerson's performance is subtle, just about perfect in finding the right balance between sweet and syrupy.Michael KuchwaraAssociated Press"The play still has its affecting moments, thanks to Inge's clear empathy for his troubled characters. These aspects are only partly realized in this awkwardly cast revival directed by Michael Pressman. Merkerson,..., underplays with a sad dignity that doesn't quite convey Lola's ridiculousness. Anderson, meanwhile, seems far too young and vital to be the sad, middle-aged Doc, though he's genuinely frightening in his second-act drunken scene." & "But despite the strenuous efforts of all concerned, this "Sheba" might not have been worth bringing back."Frank ScheckHollywood Reporter 041b061a72


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