Annie’s Story

Rated 3.0

Thistle Dew’s original production Annie’s Story has glimpses of promise—most often the result of an outstanding performance by Carissa Meagher in the leading role—but never quite transcends a binary world view. Written by local playwright Laura Sheperd, the play is identifiable as melodrama because the most egregious villain receives boos along with applause at the curtain call.

Set in a mid-20th century small town, this is one woman’s story of experience and survival of abuse; sensitive audience members ought to be forewarned that the abuse is discussed frankly. Annie is ably played by the teenaged Meagher, both as a barely adolescent girl and as a woman in her mid-20s. Jeff Webster, as Annie’s grandfather, Clint, does an excellent job in one brief scene of demonstrating how victimizers are also victims, but then his role quickly devolves into villainy and a fuller vision of what creates family dysfunction slips away. Katherine Gough (as Annie’s long-suffering grandmother) and Cynthia Drumbor (Annie’s in-your-face sister) provide the alternative approaches to dealing with abuse, while Annie struggles to find her own way.

With some revision, the play could move beyond melodrama into a more nuanced examination of what enables some abuse victims to become survivors, while others remain eternal victims or worse, become victimizers themselves.