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‘Heads’ speak volumes at Douglaston Community Theatre

In the first act, "A Lady of Letters," Miss Ruddock fills her empty days by writing letters of complaint to all and sundry - even to the Queen when she spots a bit of dog filth on the pavement in front of Buckingham Palace. This is Miss Ruddock's only connection to the outside world - though middle-aged, she's so isolated that she doesn't even know how to curse properly. But she goes too far when she complains about an innocent couple across the street from her, accusing them of perfidy. Yet in the end she achieves a quiet sort of communion with other similarly troubled women. Marionanne Rourke is excellent as Miss Ruddock, with her neat British accent and owl glasses teetering on the very tip of her nose.In the very funny and sad "A Chip in the Sugar," middle-aged Graham (Peter J. Rowan) takes offense at his widowed mother's rekindling her relationship with a boyfriend from 50 years back. Like all the other folks in these readings, Graham is damaged. He suffers from some mild mental illness thought to be harmless - his mom, who he lives with, is always reminding him to take his tablets - and can only see his mother's "fancy man" as a threat to the cozy arrangement they've shared for so many years. His mother, in turn, sees in the gentleman caller a link to a past in which she was young and happy. When Graham delivers some devastating news about the suitor to his mother, the audience is left wondering whether it was the right thing to do, or whether she should have been left to find out about the creep by herself. But had she been disillusioned on her own, we would have missed a painful moment of clarity between mother and son - "You're not normal!" she screams at him. Rowan is laconic and resentful as Graham until near the end, when the misery between him and his mother finally erupts.In "Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet," a chirpy woman of a certain age finds something like happiness with her new chiropodist. She seems the least messed up of the trio, but she's still surrounded by pain and unhappiness. Her brother Bernard has suffered a stroke and is later ripped off by one of his caregivers, her work life is dismal and she's afflicted by one of those awful British comedy-show giggles. But even she manages to land on, well, her feet. Teresa Zugger is wonderful as the relentlessly plucky Miss Fozzard. She reminds you of one of those ladies who survived the blitz thanks to good old English fortitude and pots of tea.The play is directed by Ed Dzioba, who also did the set design and lighting, with Ginger Witt providing the sound design. The reviewer attended a matinee performance, and the lighting design was hindered a bit by the fact that Mr. Dzioba couldn't possibly be expected to climb to the roof of the Zion Church and put blackout cloth over the skylights, but an evening performance will restore the play to its full excellence. Bennett's words, as can be expected by the author of "The Madness of King George" and "The History Boys," are beautiful, and his insight into his characters is subtle and compassionate, even as they remain largely clueless. "Talking Heads" will be at Zion Church till March 8.If You Go"Talking Heads" - A play by Alan BennettDate: Fridays & Saturdays through March 8Time: 8 p.m.Location: Zion Church Parish Hall, 44th Avenue and Douglaston Parkway, DouglastonCost: Adults $14, seniors $12For More: 718-482-3332 for information and reservations

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