Upon entering Seattle Rep, the first thing that caught my eye was the small fireplace on the stage, plumes of smoke coming out from the top. Feeling like I was almost at home on an early Christmas morning, a soft flurry of snow descended upon the stage, delicately pirouetting in the air as the sisters called out for one another without being seen. Like cracking open a book, Seattle Rep's rendition of Little Women created an atmospheric marvel and a sincere retelling of the beloved story.
Through its many variations, I have fallen in love with the purity and innocence of Little Women, with its characters, setting, and timeless meaning. Rebecca Court, playing Amy, and Amelio García, playing Jo, both portray their characters flawlessly, captivating the entire audience. Their onstage chemistry is a testament to the intricate relationship between Jo and Amy, the constant bickering mirroring many sibling relationships. Being a focal point of the play, relationships, and connections are prioritized, yet the spotlight that was put on the sisters' relationships far outshined the one placed on Jo’s and Laurie’s intricate romance. Without any discernible connection between Laurie and Jo, it was difficult to feel any sort of actual heartache upon seeing her reject him. Their connection was more than just fleeting, and their knowing each other since childhood should have been something more time was spent on. This moment was to display a loss of innocence, and the stark reality Jo had to face in the ‘real world,’ where love did exist, where she had to make decisions concerning these issues.
In addition to stellar performances, costume changes effectively display the girls’ moods, their ages, and their current statuses. Meg appears at Jo’s house during her married life with jam smeared all over her, depicting how worn out she is from the newfound motherhood she always sought. Her previous aspirations for a glamorous life are pointedly gone. Throughout the play, the use of muted designs and cheaper fabric underscore the girl's social status. With continuous money troubles, they find themselves forced to display something more put together to gain interest from men, a direct connection to common occurrences of that period. While most women throughout this play are dressed in 1850’s fashion, Jo defies them all - her outfit being a convertible dress/overalls. It is unrealistic that women of the period would ever wear overalls, for fear of societal shame, yet Seattle Reps’ Jo does to highlight her spontaneous and daring spirit.
Even with the abundance of small details, I would’ve appreciated more focus on the end of the individual girls' stories and more about how each of them bloomed in their own way. However, like a bow on a present, the ending ties up all loose ends, something I had worried about after looking at the deviations present in the play from the original story. Though somewhat diluting the most heart-wrenching aspects of the original story, the play doesn’t give the audience enough time to digest the fact that all these girls never really got what they wanted. This ultimately leaves their pining to seem like a childhood fantasy instead of something that they truly ached for.
It’s important to note that lighting is a huge part of the show, consistently implying future ideas and plot lines. The cottage is always the background of each scene, yet the lights change how the wallpaper looks, altering the tone of the show perfectly. Different colors of the wallpaper work to change the atmosphere and foreshadow current scenes: blue and purple are seen when there is sadness or worry and yellow when the scene is happier. In one of Jo’s scenes, the spotlight shines down, leaving her staring right at the audience. By breaking the fourth wall, as she does many times throughout the most poignant parts of the play, the lights focus the room and let one feel like they can hear a pin drop.
In the end, Seattle Rep’s rendition of Little Women was a comfortable retelling of the beloved story, accentuating the actors' efforts and their takes on the characters. Even considering its particular shortcomings, one can genuinely enjoy the play and read between the lines to see clear ideas. The chemistry between all of the sisters was a joy to see, with every prop proposing a meaningful sentiment and revealing subtleties of their relationships, leaving an impression long after the curtains closed. Seattle Rep’s Little Women is fit for everyone seeking to feel some winter magic and relive a story of four sisters that never grows old.