Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review of Strawdog Theatre Company's Distance

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Distance. It was by Jerre Dye and it was directed by Erica Weiss. It was about a woman with dementia named Irene (Janice O'Neill) who is trying to deal with her illness but kind of loses control of herself and it was also about how her daughter Luvie (Anita Deely) and caretaker Dolly (Loretta Rezos) and longtime friend and hairdresser Leonard (Stephen Rader) deal with her illness. This play is about family, reality, and stress. This is a very heartfelt and heartbreaking play, but it still had funny moments. I really enjoyed it and I think it is great to have plays where you can feel a bunch of different emotions. I saw it in previews, and the show was already amazing.

Luvie and Irene seemed to really love each other but they really got on each other's nerves. They weren't best friends or anything and Luvie thinks her mom is very disappointed in her. But later she finds out that her mom is proud of her and thinks she is smart because her mom didn't know who she was talking to so she talks to Luvie about how smart Luvie is. Because of her dementia, Irene sometimes thinks she herself is a 6 year old and she thinks she is going to miss her train. Luvie plays along with it and says she'll help her get to the train. It is hard for her to see her mother like this, where the roles are switched, and she has to act like the mom. In fact, some of the time Irene thinks her daughter is her mom. I thought it was very sad.

The relationship between Dolly and her son Dylan (Caleb Fullen) was very complicated, too. It was clear that Dolly wanted the best for her son, but they still sometimes hated each other. She knows that her son should not be living at home anymore and she knows her son should not spend so much time playing video games. And she has to make her son very mad to do what is best for him. She wants him to get the full taste of life and she wants him to actually do something with his life and not sit around all day playing video games at his mom's house. He seems like the stereotypical loser, but you see by the end that he actually has a heart. You see that because of the way that he treats Irene when he goes to help her. He is somewhat of a jerk but he still helps her. I noticed with Dolly and Dylan particularly that there is a really cool pattern in this show with they way that characters speak. They all spoke almost as if they were cutting each other off but not quite. They would kind of finish each others' sentences. It showed the closeness of all the characters and made the show very realistic.

Leonard is Irene's hairdresser and one of her most loyal friends. Then he becomes good friends with Dolly, but Dolly takes it the wrong way. She doesn't know that he is a "gaybird," which is what she ends up calling him. That was one of the funniest scenes in the play, when she asks him if he's ever been married before and says some lucky girl must have snatched him up. It is kind of obvious--he's always hinting about it--that he's gay. He keeps calling her honey and sugar, very taken aback that she doesn't understand at this point, and he said it bunches and bunches of times, but she was so oblivious. I loved the end of this scene. It was very funny because when Dylan finds out his television is gone, Leonard's reaction to Dolly and Dylan having a huge fight was to just continue to eat his pie. Leonard and Dolly turned out to still be a good couple--not a romantic one though. They are good for each other because they help each other explore things they hadn't known much about before as they get to know each other.

People who would like this show are people who like sad but sweet family stories, getting a full taste of life, and pie. I think that people should definitely, definitely go see this show. It was a beautiful story with great actors, and it really makes you think a lot. I am still thinking about and processing the show now.

Photos: Tom McGrath, TCMcGPhotography

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