“She’s Come Undone” offered by Book-It Repertory Theatre

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Betsy Swartz & Jocelyn Maher, photo by Alan Alabastro

Oh what a lovely job Book-It almost always does of transforming a book into a theatrical event. The company hires fine actors and directors. Their sets are usually ingenious in the manner they evocatively serve so many locales. And all of that is true for “She’s Come Undone.” If only the story moved beyond the maudlin, rose somehow above the level of soap opera.

I must make a disclaimer here. I am no fan of soap operas and I detest maudlin; therefore I was not predisposed to like this production adapted and directed by Kelly Kitchens. I tried. Jocelyn Maher is a fine actor and she nailed the role of the central character. Her fellow actors brought depth and sincerity to their roles. The minimalist set and careful lighting reinforced the action nicely.

But the story strained my credulity and too blatantly tried to pull at my heartstrings. Let me provide for you a list of the tragedies that befall the heroine and her family: infant death, divorce, rape, bullying, student abuse by a teacher, obesity, suicide attempt, emotional/mental breakdown and hospitalization, wife abuse, abortion, infertility, infidelity, death, and even AIDS. And it has a happy ending!

Those with a more open heart than I evidently have might well find this mawkish tale of unrelenting disappointment and grief, this catalog of human woes a powerful night at the theatre. I didn’t.

Through Oct. 13 at the Center Theatre at the Armory, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., Seattle, (206-216-0833 or www.book-it.org).

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