Best Actress: Noblest portrayal of women on the verge
While Bay Area vet Lorri Holt does "poised" very well, lately she's been getting to break out and take some characters who are distinctly off-balance. Last year that meant a woman brusquely struggling to hold onto her girlfriend in the Berkeley Rep's Fetes de la Nuit, and then a brave turn as Gwen in the psychosexual ghost story Finn in the Underworld. Holt's Gwen was the perfectly brittle and haunted ("I went off L'Oréal; I felt like it was working its way into my synapses") mother of a young man with whom she couldn't connect. Eventually playwright Jordan Harrison has Gwen become a child herself trapped in a basement air raid shelter, and Holt totally sold it. As well as her acting work, she writes fiction and nonfiction. Recently awarded a grant to do research in Paris, she's developing a theater piece on author Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea), another woman whose life was fraught with tension. Hopefully the multitalented Holt will pull a Francesca Faridany (2003's Fraulein Else) and bring the Rhys piece to us first when she's done with it.