TRUMBULL NEW THEATRE Two-woman show is sobering, funny, real
The show is perfectly cast.
By GARRY CLARK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NILES -- Trumbull New Theatre's opening performance Friday evening of "Grace and Glorie" was both delightful and sobering.
The play by Tom Ziegler takes a serious subject and treats it with wit, warmth and tenderness, while all the while keeping a cold hard eye on reality.
A two-woman piece, the story centers on Grace, a feisty, 90-year-old country bumpkin who is facing her imminent demise from cancer, and Glorie, an equally feisty, 40-something city-type who has recently moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband, and is trying to fill her hours by volunteering with the local Hospice organization. Her assignment, of course, is to be there for Grace in her final days and hours.
These two characters mix like oil and vinegar at first, as Grace wants no part of someone who's there to "help me die."
Glorie (actually Gloria, but Grace insists on calling her that) is like a fish out of water as she is aghast at the living conditions in the small cabin that Grace calls home and is firmly intent on breathing her last in. The running water consists of a pump in the kitchen sink, cooking must be done over a wood stove that also serves as the room's heater, and Glorie just can't wrap her mind around having live chickens chasing her or finding "rats" (Grace says they're just large mice) running around the cabin.
Gentle humor mixes constantly with the seriousness of Grace's condition as the lines between the two women's roles frequently become blurred and downright reversed when Grace has to calm the jittery city woman's hyperventilating over things that are just mundane to her. You know, everyday things like the mice and the developers nearby using dynamite.
Grace is also somewhat suspicious of Glorie's preoccupation with helping a dying old woman and sees that there is a deeper reason for Glorie's presence there.
Donnagene Palmer was perfectly cast as Grace, delivering her down-home country wisdom and witticisms brilliantly with a perfect deadpan demeanor befitting her character. Her portrayal shows Grace as a tough old bird and maybe just a tad crotchety, but never demanding or morose.
In the part of Glorie was the excellent Micky Burnsworth, whose character's deepening understanding of the quaint little old country lady grew more and more throughout the two acts. By the time the drama ends the two women find they have formed a deep friendship and taught each other things they never thought possible.
Peg McGinnis and Jeff Smith, the directors of this production, have done an outstanding job in bringing this poignant, superbly acted story to the TNT stage.