Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trippin', in a Good Way

Theatre Review

The Trip to Bountiful
by Horton Foote
Directed by Harris Yulin
Goodman Theatre
through April 6
(312) 443-3800 for ticket info

There are two things I discovered going in to this production...that the
The Trip to Bountiful was a play and that Horton Foote is still alive. He's in his early 90's and looks and sounds great. I hope to look that good in my 90's. Hell, I hope to look that good in my 50's.

In 1985, I saw the film version of The Trip to Bountiful starring the magnificent Geraldine Page. While critically praised, even garnering an Oscar and Spirit award for Geraldine, it got lost at the box office, stomped by such films as Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club. I only saw the film once in its theatrical release, but many of its touching moments are etched on my mind. Or, more likely, my heart. I remember going to a grocery store in Cincinnati after seeing it with my girlfriend and actually telling people there to go see the movie. We felt good after seeing it. Not pumped up. Not just put in a good mood. We felt human.

The Trip to Bountiful is the story of Carrie Watts, an elderly woman living with her son, Ludie, and daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae, in a cramped one bedroom apartment in Houston, Texas. The dining room doubles as her bedroom. She is a burden on Jessie Mae who treats her like a child and only seems to value Carrie for her cooking, housekeeping and monthly pension checks. Carrie is, of course, miserable and realizing that she is near the end of her time on this planet, she only has one thing she wants to do, that she must do, and that's to go home, again.

In going to see the play, I was worried about whether or not I'd be able to sit and enjoy it without constantly comparing it to the film. The story telling in this production is so good, that I was quickly caught up in the world the actors and director created. I have only seen a few shows at the Goodman and all have been on the side of spectacle. I didn't think they'd be capable of pulling me into such an intimate story. But they do.

The role of Carrie Watts must be the female equivalent of playing King Lear. The production rests squarely on that actresses ability to take us along with her on her journey home. Lois Smith as Carrie is outstanding. She encompasses the little girl in all aging women with grace and an infectious aliveness. The rest of the cast is superb as well. No one overplays their hand here and it's their light and dry portrayals more than anything that draw us into such a believable rural Texas.

The only thing that did pull me out of the story, albeit briefly and not enough to deter me from recommending the show, were the high-tech transitions. Particularly, the magical tree stump that moves on its own. It reminded me of a Star Trek monster trying to protect its eggs.

This play is a deceptively simple tale beautifully told. Go see it. If you absolutely can't, then rent the movie. And be thankful for such prolific living national treasures as Horton Foote.

I'm always reluctant to give out standing ovations and never stand up just because everyone else is. We were all on our feet at the curtain for this show. Well, almost all of us. Hey, people who leave during the curtain call so you can get to your car a few seconds early, you SUCK!


Yesterday, I asked...

"Firefighter Nathaniel King is suing to get his job back. He was fired because he what?"

50% said "Fears heights"
- He's a firefighter in Saratoga Springs, New York. There are no heights there.

50% said "Hates cats"
- Shameful, but not a fireable offense in this case.

No one went for "Burns easily"

And no one got the right answer, "Faints at the sight of needles"

According to The Daily Gazette, a former Saratoga Springs firefighter dismissed because he fainted constantly when giving injections is suing the city to get his job back. Nathaniel King lost his job after he failed to complete training to qualify as a paramedic. City officials said King doesn’t meet current requirements for being a firefighter, which include being a certified paramedic. Paramedics are required to administer injections and to do intravenous procedures.

I never knew firefighters needed to be skilled with hypodermic needles. There must be a faster way to put out fires.

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