Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bradleyville on the second floor


I’ve come back for the final installment of  ReGroup’s Texas Trilogy, The Oldest Living Graduate. 

This morning, I had once again told Marsha, our own Texan,that she needed to see Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander. And she said she had seen it yesterday. She too felt that the Lu Ann of the play was just like women she had known. And as one who works with senior citizens, she found one line very moving. When Lu Ann is asked why she doesn’t put her mother in a home, now that she's a vegetable, she responds, My mother’s not a vegetable, she’s a flower. That’s an example of the rich humanity of Jones’ plays that ReGroup has brought to the stage.

Even though I’m exhausted after a long day, it was worth it. As the director explained, there is a progression in the Trilogy. A progression of seriousness, poignancy. Loss. The character’s lives reflecting the life of their town. And although there’s a Texas particularity to the plays, this could  be any small town, like the Pennsylvania mountain towns we drove through last week.

And as the plays progressed, so has the cast. This last deals with memory. Development. Change. Loss. And like the damaged Corky Oberlander, so effectively played by Conrad Shaw, who was also so painfully familiar to Marsha, the effects of war on soldiers that never goes away. The cast was consistently strong with John Lenartz as Colonel Kincaid in a truly memorable performance. You hold your breath through his final scene as he maintains his passion and dignity to the end.

Following  the play, there is a celebration for a couples’ 50th wedding anniversary. But there is much else to celebrate. This production has had its share of adversity, some environmental, some internal, some random, and they triumphed over it all. Their project of bringing these plays back to life is important work. In McAlpin, they created a world and filled it with real characters, real people. Like you weren’t in a theatre space, but in a living room, a lodge hall, a bar, in Bradleyville.

It’s been an honor to have ReGroup’s Bradleyville come to life here. And for that we are thankful.

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