Blake High School began its theater season with an excellent production of Beth Henley's "Crimes of the Heart," the story of three sisters, Lenny, Meg and Babe, who come together after Babe shoots her husband. This reunion brings up old memories, good and bad, in a play that is both comedic and dramatic.

The acting in the show is amazing. The actors work well together, playing off each other's reactions and providing an excellent view of the bond between the Magrath sisters.

Lenny, played by Lauren Yedlin, is the shy older sister. Yedlin does a wonderful job of showing her character's compassion and habit of sometimes placing everyone else's needs above her own. As a result, she is overwhelmed by bitter feelings for Meg, who has always had an easier time attracting affection. Meg is played spectacularly by Louise Schlegel, who entertains the audience with her wit and talent.

Meghan Blickman also is entertaining as the somewhat eccentric youngest sister, Babe. Her adorable and naive personality allows the audience to feel empathy for her despite her sinister deeds.

The play takes place in the kitchen of Lenny's house in Hazlehurst, Miss. The set surpasses the audience's expectations. The craftsmanship and attention to detail provide a glimpse of life in this small southern town.

Overall, Blake High School does a wonderful job of showcasing the relationship of the three sisters. The technical aspects of the show are flawless. The three actresses give beautiful performances and are helped by equally talented actors in supporting roles.

This play, about how the bond between sisters can overcome obstacles through love and support, inspires the audience. Lenny, Meg and Babe confront troubles in their pasts and get through what Babe describes simply as "a very bad day."

Laura Koran

Bethesda-Chevy Chase

High School

"It's a human need to talk about our lives," says the character Meg Magrath in Blake High School's production of Beth Henley's "Crimes of the Heart," summing up the complicated, poignant play.

The drama follows two days in the lives of three sisters reunited by a shocking event, and if the story is a bit melodramatic at times, Blake's production makes up for it with a delightfully intricate set and superb acting. Led by Louise Schlegel (Meg), Lauren Yedlin (Lenny) and Meghan Blickman (Babe), the cast of six does a skillful job dealing with the play's many difficult themes.

Schlegel is the most impressive, bringing a heartbreaking vulnerability to the brassy, hardened Meg. Her performance, often comic but occasionally movingly sad, makes some of the bizarre situations and adult themes more believable than they might otherwise be. The genuine relationship that Schlegel creates with the actresses who play her sisters, especially Blickman, forces the audience to care about the fate of this unfortunate family.

The relationships developed between the characters keep the show moving. The nearly two-hour production keeps audience members on the edge of their seats as the actors navigate the rocky terrain of human emotions.

They move comfortably around the sprawling country kitchen set, its knickknacks and homey, personal touches creating an excellent backdrop for the small-town southern story. As Babe, Blickman creates a quirky and lovable combination of ingenue and dotty southern belle.

The subtle sparks between her and her charming lawyer, Barnette Lloyd (played by Gil Hasty), make for a nice break from some of the more difficult tension throughout the story.

An appropriate balance of comedy and drama, as well as some memorable moments with a saxophone, also helps to keep the production from becoming too heavy. But the show is at bottom a character study and an assurance that even though there might be some "really bad days," it really is wonderful to be alive. The story ends ambiguously, but on a hopeful note, making "Crimes of the Heart" a worthwhile and moving production.

Julia Fine

Bethesda-Chevy Chase

High School