Angelica Page in "Turning Page," which pays tribute to her mother Geraldine Page. (Courtesy of Ty Donaldson)
After I sat through “Turning Page” on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at Greenway Theatre Angelica Page’s one-woman show honoring her late actress mother, the legendary Geraldine Page, I felt as if I had, indeed, been there with her throughout her mother’s life.
And that is not necessarily a good thing.
Granted, the subject matter might not resonate with someone of my generation, and I can probably say that I was not the target audience, as Geraldine Page’s death occurred before my birth.
Nevertheless, it was difficult to find an entry point, and I found Angelica Page’s one-woman act a bit tedious for a show lasing two hours.
It began with Angelica Page detailing her struggle to write the biography she had promised her mother. She offers this as a tribute instead, which I’m sure her creative mother would have preferred over another celebrity book anyway.
Though the show proved difficult in sustaining my interest for the entire running time, I did enjoy snippits of this actress’s life. To me, the most interesting part is the struggle, and Geraldine Page did have a compelling one. I won’t give anything away-because this show contains very little suspense, but it involves a suicide and a confrontation at a funeral.
The late Geraldine Page does make a few “guest appearances” in the show, since Angelica uses wigs, scarves, and sunglasses to channel her mother. When I watched a clip of Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), a movie in which Geraldine Page starred alongside Paul Newman, I can see the resemblance is uncanny.
Other aspects that drew me in were the insider’s details about old Hollywood. Of course, Angelica Page spent significant time around the icons as a young child, and even learned something from a few of them. The wisdom she gained from Roman Polanski? You can drink if there are adults present. She also revealed an interesting anecdote: before Geraldine Page received an Oscar for her performance in The Trip to Bountiful (1985), she took off her shoes because she was sure she wasn’t going to win. She then kicked them under the chair of ten-year-old Angelina Jolie.
Angelica Page brings her whole self to the stage. Her voice cracks when reliving certain memories of her youth. Her mascara smudges when she cries, but in the same way her mother eschewed unrealistic glamour, Angelica Page doesn’t attempt to fix it (perhaps this is another homage?).
In fact, the closeness Angelica Page has to the subject matter might end up being part of her problem. The play may satisfy a niche group, but it fails to connect Geraldine Page to a broader audience. With a slapdash costume change, Angelica Page can raise her mother from the dead. But we never forget that this play is a tribute.