The Baltimore Museum of Art wouldn’t be the same without The Cone Collection. Collected by Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone from the early-mid 20th century, this world-renowned collection of modern art features works by Matisse, Picasso, Pissarro, Courbet, and Degas.
Rep Stage’s production of “All She Must Possess” about the Baltimore Cone sisters is like viewing a fine, albeit unfinished, painting. Written by Susan McCully, this world-premiere entry into the Women’s Voices Theater Festival resembles a piece of modern art in play form, featuring clever wordplay, a painting that comes to life, a writer who summons the Cone sisters from heaven, and even a breaking down of the fourth-wall.
…a play pleasing to the palate… visually beautiful.
The production is visually beautiful. The set designed by Daniel Ettinger gives us a large wall filled with empty picture frames, ready to be “painted” with totally immersive projections designed by Sarah Tundermann, and subtle, yet effective lights designed by Conor Mulligan. Add to the stage Julie A. Potter’s tasteful period costume design, director Joseph W. Ritsch’s picturesque staging, and a small ensemble of high quality performers, and you have a play pleasing to the palate.
The story revolves around a young, curious Writer (a believably intelligent and clever Keri Eastridge) who is writing a play about her idol, Etta Cone. To do this, she summons both Cone sisters as well as their friends in order to get the full picture about their life and times.
Valerie Leonard is outstanding as a very gutsy and direct Dr. Claribel Cone. It was interesting to learn that although she never practiced medicine, Dr. Cone taught pathology and preferred “things to people.” As her younger, docile sister Etta, Grace Bauer captures the essence of a lady who enjoyed beauty and love in all of its forms.
Supporting characters include local favorite Nigel Reed as Henri Matisse and Leo Stein and an entrancing Teresa Castracane as Blue Nude and Alice B Toklas.
“All She Must Possess” is a play pleasing to the palate, yet Susan McCully’s script leaves me hungry to learn more about these colorful collectors, travelers, and bons vivants, known as the Cone sisters. Perhaps a trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art to view The Cone Collection is in order.
Running Time: About 75 minutes, with no intermission.
“All She Must Possess” plays at Rep Stage through February 25, 2018, in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College — 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 518-1500 or go online.