Review: "As Bees in Honey Drown," Ovation Theatre Company
The Ovation Theatre Company is lucky to have Corinne Mohlenhoff Phillips as the leading lady of “As Bees in Honey Drown.”
She seems a little over-the-top in the early scenes, a little too Katherin Hepburn. But we soon learn why Phillips lays it on so thick. It’s because Alexa Vere de Vere, the character she plays, puts it on so thick.
Although the play, cleverly scripted by Douglas Carter Beane, has surprises to come, it’s pretty clear to the audience that Alexa is not all she seems to be. We know the type. The person who drops names a little too easily, who seems to have a ready excuse for every action that seems beyond the norm.
So when Alexa drops $1,000 in cash on Evan Wyler, a hot young writer who’s waiting for his income to catch up to his new fame, we know there’s something not quite right about Alexa.
But what is right about Alexa, a presentation of her that is enjoyable to watch and absorb, illustrates what’s so very wrong about the rest of this production of “As Bees in Honey Drown.”
We love watching Corinne work, but her kung fu is so much stronger than the rest of the cast that we feel a little embarrassed for them, a little pained at the beating they’re taking. I won’t name names, but some of the cast seemed to have trouble even remembering their lines. When Alexa is off-stage, the energy dwindles perceptibly, and we simply bide our time, hoping to keep some attention to the plot that transpires as we wish for her return.
The staging itself is uneven and klutzy. The action moves awkwardly around platforms using black boxes as a stand-in for real stage dressing. And every theater in Cincinnati should black-ball the person who decided on the gaudy wallpaper motif of the back drop.
There is one nicely staged moment at the beginning of Act II when Alexa’s nature is revealed in a sort of fugue among the ensemble cast, but otherwise, “As Bees in Honey Drown” is a mess.