This raccoon completely disagrees with "unstable" and "crazy" being the most salient—or correct—adjectives to describe the Edies, and the statements below don't instill much faith the the Cincinnati production of the Grey Gardens musical.
From Cincinnati.com, by Jackie Demaline, on 12 September 2008
Crazy ladies of 'Grey Gardens'
Ensemble actors in tour de force roles
"Grey Gardens" is the musical based on the lives of "Little Edie" and "Big Edie" Beale, socialites who ended up as recluses in an East Hampton mansion gone to ruin and famously related to Jackie Kennedy.
It's not fiction—you couldn't make their story up.
"Who's more unstable? Who's crazier?" muses Neva Rae Powers. "I don't know."
Powers, who won huge applause at Ensemble for playing another real-life eccentric, Florence Foster Jenkins, in "Souvenir," plays both mother and daughter in "Grey Gardens"—a feat which won a Tony Award for Christine Ebersole.
Powers points out, with a laugh, that she's had a lot less than Broadway rehearsal time for the show's regional premiere at Ensemble Theatre, continuing through Sept. 28.
She says she's delighted to be playing "one of those dream parts—a tour de force. It has drama, comedy, two vastly different characters—this is as good as it gets for an over-50 performer."
The story begins in 1941, when the Beales were atop the social register and life was one long, swell-egant party. Powers plays Edith ("Big Edie") Ewing Bouvier Beale, and the occasion is a celebration of her debutante daughter's engagement to Joe Kennedy Jr. Ashley Kate Adams, who was among the stars of Ensemble hit "The Great American Trailer Park Musical," plays Little Edie as a young woman.
Act Two fast-forwards to 1973. The Beales' showplace house is filled with cats and rubbish.
Powers is a middle-aged little-Edie; favorite Cincinnati actress Dale Hodges is an aged Big Edie.
"It's the mother/daughter relationship taken to the extreme," says Powers. "They adore and hate and resent each other. They see themselves as victims but don't take responsibility."
The co-stars have been talking about the Beales throughout rehearsal, as ladies will.
They watched the famed 1975 documentary by David and Albert Maysles on which the musical is based; they ponder how the Beales came to fall so far.
More questions are asked than answered in "Grey Gardens," which is much of the fun of Doug Wright's script.
Young Edie's engagement was broken. "She was suffocated, and she was promiscuous," Adams says. "In that era, when people tried to micro-manage your life, the only way out was through a man."
The women agree Young Edie probably didn't have a relationship with her father. She longed for a showbiz career, "although I have a feeling Edie didn't have much talent," Powers notes.
In 1952, at 35, she was called home to care for her mother.
The rest is "Grey Gardens."