Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Trip to Bountiful"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"Trip to Bountiful"

by Horton Foote
Directed by Lida McGirr

Set Design by Carolyn Fuchs
Lighting Design by John MacKenzie
Props by Meg Kiedrowski
Sound Design by Richard an Lida McGirr
Stage Manager Norma McGrath

Mrs. Carrie Watts......................Sheila Kadra
Ludie Watts...............................Chris McRae
Jessie Mae Watts........................Kerrie Miller
Thelma......................................Abbie Hiscox
Houston Ticket Man..............H. Webb Tilney
Passenger............................Steven A. Bander
Second Houston Ticket Man.....Chet Orlando
Harrison Ticket Man................Brian Delaney
Sheriff..........................................Kent Miller

The real joy in Lida McGirr's direction of "Trip to Bountiful" is watching the people onstage who aren't speaking, but are acting up a storm nonetheless. Watch the face of a bus passenger (Abbie Hiscox) putting together the details she's overhearing and reacting to every revelation. Watch another (Steven A. Bander) try to insist --- silently --- that he is definitely Not an eavesdropper. Watch the different ticket-sellers (H. Webb Tilney, Chet Orlando, Brian Delaney) maintain their studied, impersonal neutrality despite the human drama they're privy to. It's these cameo walk-ons, intensely and generously acted, that add a genuine ensemble experience to this delicately, tenderly realized story.

And the principals here blossom in this delicately compassionate atmosphere. Everything here is low-key, down to the tinge of Texas shading everyone's easy speech patterns. The family is a very quiet, understated battleground, pitting an ageing, beholden widow (Sheila Kadra) against her young daughter-in-law (Kerrie Miller) in her son's (Chris McRae) cramped two-room city apartment, instead of the rural farm near the town of Bountiful she yearns to revisit. The quiet, understated rapport of mother and son contrasts with the tempestuous territoriality sharply dividing the in-laws.

Horton Foote's script is as gently polite as the best old Sothron families, with each individual aware of why they all need each other and why they cannot get along. Sheila Kadra is quiet with the over-patient Chris McRae, petulant with the over-bearing Kerrie Miller --- and always, as with the many minor characters, it's their faces and their eyes, whether speaking or not, that really tell their story.

Designer Carolyn Fuchs has made the two rooms of this apartment arena carefully detailed, with lots of little props found by Meg Kiedrowski. The detail in act one contrasts with the airless impersonality of two bus stations and bus-seats (neatly isolated by John MacKenzie's careful lighting), and with the glowingly surreal abandoned Bountiful farmhouse in the final act.

The resolution of the play is effected by a kind of modern-day angel --- the sheriff of the town nearest the fabled Bountiful. Kent Miller looks the part --- everyone in this loving production looks exactly as they should --- with the powerful but understanding attitude expected of a small-town professional. Like all of Horton Foote's characters, he is typical yet unique and meets everyone on a level of sensitive humanity.

This is a play about giving up things, about accommodating, about best possible solutions, about reconciliation. Nothing anyone desires is attained, really, except understanding, awareness, and peace. In Horton foot's world ... in Lida McGirr's ... in the Hovey Players' ... that is much more than enough.

Love,
===Anon.


"Trip to Bountiful" (16 November - 1 December)
HOVEY PLAYERS
Abbott Memorial Theater, WALTHAM, MA
1(781) 893-9171


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