August 18, 2015

Here in the manicured Hamptons, where affluence parades in the summer months, “Grey Gardens” counts as a local story: the Camelot relatives — Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s elderly aunt and middle-aged cousin — whose spectacularly mangy living conditions, in their wreck of an East Hampton mansion, grabbed headlines in the 1970s. The neighbors, naturally, had complained. So there’s a doubleness to seeing the musical at Bay Street Theater, in this prim enclave of towns and villages where the eccentric Edith Bouvier Beale and her unhinged daughter, Little Edie Beale, failed so flagrantly to fit in. “They can get you in East Hampton for wearing red shoes on a Thursday,” Little Edie (Rachel York) grouses, and the audience laughs in recognition, never mind the jillion cats and assorted raccoons bunking in Grey Gardens, their tumbledown home. But the potent emotional undertow of this production, directed by Michael Wilson, has nothing to do with geographical proximity and everything to do with the formidable Betty Buckley, whose determinedly cheerful, thoroughly heart-bruising Edith will win you over, pull you under and cast you out to sea.