Crimes of the Heart

What up, Streif? – A greeting from a MRH High School student

In 1981, a much younger than now columnist for the New York Times, Frank Rich, wrote that paper’s review for the Broadway debut of Crimes of the Heart. Then Mr. Rich had little more than a year on the job, while Miss Henley’s first play, had already won the Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It was a choice assignment for a then young writer. Now fast forward thirty years. Frank Rich is departing the Times and Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School has produced Crimes of the Heart. Written over thirty years ago, Henley’s characters and words are as relevant now, as they were then. Her words still speak to young hearts and are spoken well by them too.

The scene is Hazlehurst, Mississippi, where the three Magarth sisters have gathered to await the news of the family patriarch, their grandfather, who is living out his last hours in the local hospital. Lenny, the oldest sister, is unmarried at thirty and facing diminishing marital prospects; Meg, the middle sister, who quickly outgrew Hazlehurst, is back after a failed singing career on the West Coast; while Babe, the youngest, is out on bail after having shot her husband in the stomach. Their troubles, grave and yet, somehow, hilarious, are highlighted by their priggish cousin, Chick, and by the awkward young lawyer who tries to keep Babe out of jail while helpless not to fall in love with her. In the end the play is a story of how its young characters escape the past to seize the future, but the telling is so true and touching and consistently hilarious that it will linger in the mind long after the curtain has descended.

In 1986 a movie was made from the play. It starred Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek, as Lenny, Meg and Babe respectively. At about 10:30, I happened upon the complete movie on Hulu and started watching it. I soon got Anne sucked in too. Around midnight, I couldn’t stay up any longer and left Anne to watch the rest of the movie. In the morning, I asked if the movie had ended the same as the play and it had. Anne liked the play better, when pressed, because she knew the actors, but thought comparing the two works was unfair.

Anne and I took Friday off from work. I rode in the Park in the morning. Because she stayed up late, Anne elected to sleep in. I noticed that the ice rink’s ice has been allowed to melt, another sign that winter’s grasp is slipping. I also saw a man who had dreadlocks down to his heels. When you go round and round and round again on the same bike trail, it is the other people who make the ride interesting. I also stopped by and paid my respects to Charles, the Great Horned Owl. I got 26.2 miles, a good workout, but on the start of a long day.

In the afternoon, Anne and I took MetroLink downtown to see the home and garden show. We’ve got all that insurance money that is burning a hole in our hands. We solicited bids for a new awning over the front door, a new tree to replace the fallen one, gutters, roofing work and masonry work too. All I had to say to the different reps was “storm damage”. I could practically see them begin to salivate. Now mind you, we have not seen any of this insurance money, but at least our insurer is starting to take action. We’ll just have to keep prodding them.

6 thoughts on “Crimes of the Heart

  1. Wow, the masonry on your house is really wonderful! What year was your house built?

    Almost a shame to hide the arched doorway under an awning….

  2. Thanks Karen, for the complementary comment. You are not the first one to comment on how pretty the house looks. When the tree first came down, quite a few of the neighbors made similar comments. It is almost like the house is a pretty girl who once wore long bangs, but then finally got them cut only to reveal her pretty face. You maybe right about the awning. Anyway, the house was built in 1937.

  3. Agree: pretty house. “Prodding” in the final sentence may turn out to be a severe understatement. (Hope not, though.)

  4. The lift is for the addition that our neighbor is having built. Although, he let us hire his man for a day and the carpenter used the lift to remove the loose bricks on top of the faux chimney. He also put an emergency patch on our roof, just before the rains came. Plus he took our insurance adjustor up in the lift so that he could survey the damage.

  5. as one who has lived with/without at least a small awning over the door – add something. opening the door when rain is pelting and your arms are full…. better with an awning. but if it could be super tasteful, so much the better.

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