'Sand' entertains even if this lioness doesn't roar

September 24, 1992|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,Theater Critic

"I like frogs, don't you? You have to like a creature that can't decide whether to lie in a quiet bog or leap over the moon." So says actress Maravene Loeschke, shortly after making her entrance in the one-woman show, "George Sand: "The Lioness of Berry."

Appropriately, she is carrying a frog at the time; she also happens to be dressed in the masculine garb for which the 19th century French authoress became infamous. The first half of Patricia R. Plante's script presents the writer in her "leap-over-the-moon" phase; she's already separated from her husband, assumed her male pseudonym, concluded several liaisons and is caring for the ailing Chopin, whose music is frequently heard in the background.

In the second act, 28 years later, Sand is in her considerably less scandalous "quiet-bog" days. Not only is she wearing feminine attire, she practically coos over the joys of being a grandmother.

Plante, a former provost of Towson State University, and Loeschke, who heads the school's theater department, first presented this dramatic biography at TSU in July. Now, with further honing and the continued guidance of director C. Richard Gillespie, it is receiving a second brief airing at the Theatre Project.

Although the first act doesn't project the unbridled roar usually associated with this flamboyant lioness, the second is especially intriguing. Here, Plante and Loeschke take the rather bold path of showing us this wild creature at a seemingly more conventional time of life. While the contrast could be more dramatically realized, the show nonetheless makes an entertaining, informative evening that would be an excellent vehicle for the college and lecture circuit.

Plante adapted her text from Sand's autobiographies as well as 25 volumes of her correspondence, but she acknowledges she originated much of the wording of this highly epigrammatic script. It's a script that gives Loeschke plenty to say, under the guise of pretending to have invited us into her home so she can respond to inquiries spurred by her life and work.

The actress also has plenty to do, and her activities -- ranging from smoking opium to playing the guitar to sewing costumes for marionettes -- suggest Sand's versatility as well as her daring behavior.

The monodrama is a difficult medium, but a performer who's comfortable with the form can usually make an audience comfortable with it as well. Loeschke is no newcomer to one-woman shows, and she definitely conveys a welcoming spirit.

But this particular monodrama is welcome for another reason as well. When Sand spouts such sentiments as, "I championed the emancipation of women in love," and "Motherhood is emotional, not domestic," it's heartwarming to think that Dan Quayle would probably have even more trouble with George Sand than he did with Murphy Brown.

'George Sand: The Lioness of Berry'

When: 8 p.m. today through Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.

Tickets: $14

Call: (410) 752-8558

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