Angelica Page Roars Ahead in Turning Page

 

 

By Sandi Durell

 

 

Taking on the quirky, mysterious persona of Geraldine Page, the lauded and canonized actress, is no easy feat, especially if the lady happens to be your mother! But it was Geri who pushed her daughter Gaga (Angelica couldn’t pronounce her name as a child and referred to herself as Gaga) into acting, desperately pleading with her to immortalize her (Geraldine) since there was no biography about this extraordinary actress. When Geraldine began an autobiography realizing she would never finish it, she asked Angelica to tell her story, the truthful story, and when a psychic reinforced that Angelica must channel her mother, the result is now larger than life at Dixon Place. After many years in development this is the final phase of Turning Page, created and written by Angelica Page.

 

 

I must state that I was at an original table reading at Angelica’s brownstone and in the audience at the first workshop at the Cherry Lane Theatre about five years ago. Things have changed considerably. Angelica is not longer looking into a mirror talking as herself about her mother. She is her mother! It’s an amazing journey taking on the persona of such a complicated woman as Geraldine Page. It is more amazing that her daughter can emulate her persona, the cadence of her very recognizable speech pattern and take the emotional roller coaster ride it takes.

 

This one woman show allows Angelica a freedom and mobility not before seen in former incarnations of Turning Page as she becomes Geraldine Page, taking on Geri’s interchanges with everyone from Woody Allen and the filming of Interior, as he directed Geraldine emphasizing the less is more technique; the family history that includes grandma Pearl; the turbulence of her mother’s three marriages, and especially Geraldine’s life with the love of her life, Rip Torn and his many affairs. Life was chaotic.

 

 

As a child, Gaga wanted dance and piano lessons but, alas, they were too poor and finally at the age of 17, it was to be an actress where Angelica began in a Church play of Little Women. She was bitten! By the time Gaga was 12, her clothing consisted of only black!

 

There’s no doubt that growing up with Geraldine was a very complicated world for a child who spent many a year backstage and on the road; turbulent for a young girl who craved order and also a recipe for many years of acting out. Angelica withdrew from theater, going off to Paris to be a rock photographer.

 

 

It wasn’t until Geraldine appeared in the film Summer and Smoke (1961), also staged at Circle in the Square, that the agents came a-calling in droves and this method actress was on the map for good. Eight Academy Award nominations and a win for Best Actress in The Trip to Bountiful (1985) – but alas, no Tony Award but many nominations.

 

Geraldine Page died from a heart attack on June 13, 1987, during a run of Blithe Spirit on Broadway, having suffered mini strokes, high blood pressure, and undergoing dialysis for kidney disease.

 

All this history unfolds as Angelica Page puts her heart, soul and emotions on the line as Geraldine in 90 minutes on a simple stage containing a trunk, a couch, a stool, some crates for tables, and the use of many hats and wigs. She is directed by Wilson Milam, her original director. The hair and wigs are by Richard Stein, and lighting by Rob Lariviere.

 

There are moments when Geraldine becomes almost a caricature in the theatricality and sometimes the pace of dialogue flows much too quickly. However, you’ll be swept away by Angelica Page entering the world of life as Geraldine Page in all its complexity.

 

Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street (bet. Rivington & Delancy) www.dixonplace.org

Turning Page Thru April 8

 

Photos: Peter Yesley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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