A Weekend Near Madison

Character: Vanessa

Directed by: Emily Mann

Written by: Kathleen Tolan

Produced by: Dasha Epstein

Cast Members: Robin Groves, Holly Hunter, Randle Mell, William Mesnik

Venue: Astor Place Theatre

Production Dates: September 13, 1983 - September 25, 1983

Genre: Drama

A group of college friends from the 1960's gather twenty years later to thrash out the past and to see Vanessa, the feminist lesbian of the group, who has become a famous rock singer. It turns out the only reason Vanessa has come to the reunion is because she and her waif-like lover, Samantha, are looking for a man to father their child. But the singer unwisely approaches her former lover Jim and recriminations over the past come spilling out.


→ McDonnell plays the role of a feminist lesbian who previously was into a relationship with a man, Jim, played by her life partner Randle Mell. McDonnell and Mell would tie the knot the year after; this was their first project.


Again McDonnell creates her own performance rhythm to capture the various facets of a woman who sees the world in terms of her own coming out. She walks a thin line between an old life and a new one, straining to be conciliatory yet unyielding while point out to David that his suicidal teenage patient might be better off at a women-only concert than crying over the phone to a sexist shrink who draws strength from her illness. One minute she’s pleasantly explaining the needs for women to withdraw from men’s company, the next she’s asking her ex-boyfriend to father a child she and her woman lover will raise, and when someone points out her contradictions she snaps, “Oh, so what!” and laughs. A poisonous caricature could have been made of a lesbian separatist who wants a child, but McDonnell makes her sympathetic without sacrificing the seriousness or extremity of her commitments.Don Shewey

Script developed by Never Enough Design