The New Yorker's John Lahr, reviewing the Alley Theatre, Houston production of THE CARPETBAGGER'S CHILDREN wrote: "Under the crisp direction of Michael Wilson, three expert actresses--Roberta Maxwell, Jean Stapleton and Foote's daughter, Hallie--weave an elegant family tale, and in the process chronicle Central Texas history from the Confederacy to the present.
"History is fable agreed upon; Foote demonstrates this with the three Thompson sisters--the matriarch, Cornelia, the black sheep, Grace Anne and the saint, Sissie --who have inherited 20,000 acres their Yankee father acquired after the Civil War.
"Foote's homage to Chekhov's The Three Sisters is without incident and very nearly without interaction. Yet, in its modest, garrulous way, it is theatrically daring. Unlike The Three Sisters, these siblings speak almost exclusively to the audience and Foote's narrative is entirely exposition. By all conventional standards of stagecraft, it should not work. But, thanks both to the actresses' charisma and to the fine filigree of Foote's storytelling, it does."
Lincoln Center Theater presented Foote's wonderful play in a limited engagement at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Horton Foote, who throughout his long life, continued to live part of the time in the small town of Wharton, Texas, distinguished himself for his writing about rural Texas life. His many works for the stage included his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Young Man From Atlanta and The Trip to Bountiful. His films included two Oscar winners, Tender Mercies and To Kill a Mockingbird. Director Michael Wilson, artistic director of Hartford Stage, wa a perfect match for the subtlety and sensitivity of Foote's writing. As the Houston Chronicle wrote, "Wilson has staged the play unobtrusively, with taste, simplicity and feeling. He has drawn solid performances from a strong trio of actresses whose disparate personalities underscore how different siblings can be."
The cast of this 90-minute, intermissionless evening included one of Foote's best interpreters: his daughter Hallie, who received an Obie Award for The Roads to Home and a Drama Desk Award for her work in a four-play season of Foote plays at the Signature Theatre Company.
She was joined by Roberta Maxwell, a two-time Obie winner for Ashes and Whistle in the Dark, whom some of you may also remember from LCT's Tony-winning revival of Our Town.
Rounding out the talented trio was Jean Stapleton, known to millions as Edith Bunker from All in the Family, whose illustrious stage career began with roles in a series of plays by Horton Foote. They were professionally reunited a few years ago when she appeared in Signature's retrospective and she remains an ardent admirer of his. "I call him Anton Foote," she told USA Today, not just because of Carpetbagger's reference to Chekhov's Three Sisters, but "because his characters are so rich, and there's so much depth and truth in his writing."