Dolores, which opens the evening, fares less well. Too much dialogue-exposition mars the early going, as the play's siblings explain things to each other that we may need to know but two such sisters wouldn't have to express in so many words. Thirty-year-old Dolores has arrived at her sister Sandra's house in a state of mental disarray, seeking shelter from her abusive husband. There's a lot of yelling as Sandra tries to keep her prodigal sister's problems from ruining a rare Sunday afternoon of peace and quiet, and the characters are funny in a broad, shallow way. But too much of the dialogue doesn't ring true. The language moves from sitcommy ("I hear Jewish men don't hit their wives!") to elevated and self-analytical, draped in phrases that just don't sound right in the mouths of these working-class people with their thick Rhode Island accents. "Carly Simon songs made me all soft inside…" "I'd look in the mirror and my face would always look dirty…" This is pseudo-poetry, not drama.
The actors, Rachel Cornish and Sat Charn Fox, do their best, and there are some nice, effective moments. At the end when the true extent of Dolores' plight has been revealed, the lights go down and we see one sister peacefully doing the other's hair, the pair bathed in a temporary spotlight of tranquility before the storm.
But while both plays center on two siblings, a family catastrophe, and a gun, Dolores feels like an exercise, while North of Providence packs a wallop. The production runs till Feb. 12 at Teatro La Tea, 107 Suffolk St., New York.