Chekhov’s mature plays are perhaps most noteworthy for the fact that not much happens in them, and the same can be said of The Carpetbagger’s Children, by 87-year-old Horton Foote. In the tradition of dramas involving three sisters—there are nods to both King Lear and Three Sisters here—the latest of Foote’s family dramas set in fictional small-town Harrison, Texas, tells the story of the Thompsons, children of a Union general who settled there after the war. The eldest and favorite of the entire clan, Beth, died young and is still mourned 20 years later. The next in line, Grace Ann (Barbara Scheide), has been ostracized for marrying a man her father disapproves of—a recurring Foote theme. Next comes matronly Cornelia (Leah Mazade), who was given the family farms to manage when it became apparent that “Brother” had no aptitude for business. (Toward the end of the play, Brother persuades Cornelia she must modernize the farms or lose them, awkwardly contradicting the earlier characterization.) Finally, there’s happy, childlike Sissie (Stephanie Mumford), the baby of the family. “I like being told what to do and what not to do and what to think and what not to think,” she says. Speaking in monologues, each of the women has unique successes and sorrows to talk about, as well as overlapping versions of the same shared events. Their only conflicts stem from their father’s stipulation that his 20,000 acres never be divided among his heirs; but apart from a hurtful remark by Brother that Grace Ann’s husband married her because she was going to be rich, even money problems don’t divide the siblings much. At the end of their lives, the biggest regret the sisters seem to have is that maybe Papa should have told Beth she was going to die, rather than letting her believe she’d get well. The Quotidian Theatre Company places special emphasis on both Foote and Chekhov, and its production is quiet, evenly paced, and punctuated with little touches of light and music that add just enough dimension—harmony for Sissie’s singing, for example—to reinforce the mood of the monologues. Scheide, Mazade, and Mumford all give heartfelt and warm performances. Jack Sbarbori, who both directed and designed the sets, achieves a cluttered, homey, Victorian feel in the three separate areas the women occupy when they’re not speaking. And while Foote’s play may be short on conflict, it does offer suspense. Did Papa ever forgive Grace Ann? Did Cornelia marry Leon Davis? Just how many filling stations can Harrison support? The audience’s perspective on The Carpetbagger’s Children is like that of a young member of the Thompson family—eavesdropping, perhaps, as the sisters unguardedly discuss and unravel all the grudges, heartbreaks, and secrets of the past 60 years.—Janet Hopf

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