There are some very fine qualities in Pinnacle. A Play about Needle point and Other Crafts." Opening the sixth year of the New Playwrights' Theater, 1742 Church St. NW.
One believes the play, its situation and the characters who flow clearly from crisp exchanges. Playwright Mark Sterm creates humble people who are interesting even endearing a welcome switch on fashionable stage doctrine that ordinary folk are seek criminal or despirable.
The setting is fairly unfamiliar. Admirably accomplished as usual by Russell [WORD ILLEGIBLE], it is a small cramped room in New York where patterns are sketched for needlepoint machines. The boss pops in and out, as does a coffee-thirsty drifter.
Four women are the focus, Pearl, the eldest has prerogatives but never has managed to create a union shop Rosetta, office manager for eight years, loves her married boss. Angie, sweet but clumsy, dreams of a husband and house in Paramus near the shoping center Newcomer Rachel is a college graduate who, since the Madison, Wts., battles of the '60s, has traveled widely and wound up in East Village.
The most interesting conflict is the generational gap between Pearl and Rachel, protestors of different periods. All the relationships have short fuses and Stein's pithy writing makes us aware but also amused.
More body is needed. Introduced last season at an open reading, the play, I imagine now is fuller but the conflicts might be more deeply developed. Exactly what does Pearl do? Why is she retiring? Cannot more be made of the Pearl-Rachel root similarities and generational differences? Would Angie quit? The dialogue is good enough to make us laugh often but more should be done with these three acts, running just under two hours.
At NPT, playwrights have priority but this casting is admirable: Dana Vance as Pearls; Barbara Rappaport as Rosetta; Gigi Yellen as Angie; and Mickey Nutter as Rachel.Jim Brady who was in the first NPT ventures creates a spirited bum of Sarovanesque implications and Clint Vriezlaar exudes helpful fog as the boss. Harry Bagdasian's staging is resourceful.
NPT has developed a grand appreciative audience. If you don't know this questing place, "Pinnacle" is a fine introduction. Performances were Wednesdays through Sundays with Sunday afternoon and Monday Tuesday readings. Details at 232-1122.