Maxine is old, paranoid, and RICH! Convinced her daughter is conspiring to kill her before a new death tax goes into effect, Maxine enlists her nurse in a scheme of her own. The ensuing lies and accusations have unforeseen—and irrevocable—consequences. Death Tax is a tightly-wound thriller about money, power, and the value of a human life.
CAST is proud to present Death Tax, fresh from the Humana Festival of New American Plays.
Performances are November 30 through December 16, 2012.
Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m.
Select matinees at 2:30 p.m.
No late seating.
This show contains adult language and themes. Not recommended for children under 16.
Arts a la Mode: Polly Adkins plays Maxine with brittle yet poignant vexation, making a convincing leap of 20 years, in the same bed, from scene one to five. She handles her long speeches very well, with moving words near the end about the miracles of technology, for those who can afford it, and yet the need for something even more valuable than money or life. Nicole Watts, as Nurse Tina and the social worker, distinguishes each character clearly while evoking empathy for both, even when the nurse is at her worst. Robert Crozier, as Todd and the grandson, also creates distinct characterizations—and a compelling change in Todd as he dons a leather jacket, a Christmas gift from Tina, which gives him the courage to outwit her. Francis Bendert plays the daughter’s single scene and long speeches with compelling tension, as she’s caught between love and hatred for her mother.
Charlotte Observer: The play has an undeniable dramatic power, demonstrating forcibly the corrupting effects of money and influence – and, for that matter, of want and weakness.
Creative Loafing: Polly Adkins has perfected the ability to deliver willful, seriously flawed women to a depth where we feel compassion for them. She did it most notably in August: Osage County, and she does much the same here with the older, bedbound Maxine, beautifully fusing her selfishness with her vulnerability. Another Osage County standout, Frances Bendert, portrays Adkins’ daughter, so bad-girl brazen in her confrontation with Tina that we’re never sure of her ulterior motives — only that she hasn’t bought this nurse before.
Nicole Watts and Robert Crozier do the remaining roles. Of their two confrontations, the one we see in Act 1 is the most sexually charged and exquisitely balanced. Todd has the power — and the evidence — to ruin Tina and her dreams of recovering her son, but she has all the sexual artillery and experience, plus the checkered past that emboldens her to go for the gusto when Maxine opens her checkbook. The dance Watts and Crozier do around each other requires cultivating a complex chemistry where domination and subjection are constantly flickering on and off. Watts alternates between poignant mommy and devastating siren while Crozier is equally adept at zigzagging between efficient professional and romantic naif.