Review by Danny Gaisin
We’ve seen Mitch Albom’s ‘TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE” tragicom twice before…both of which had our friend Jamie Farr playing the title role. The subject matter – terminal debilitating illness; in this case ALS; touches very close to home (my late mother’s dementia) and I admit to being a failure in compassion plus derelict in proximity & benevolence. However, with Vince Carlin portraying Morrie; Chris Reid as Mitch and the duo under direction of Dia Frid; this was [and is] a must-see rendition.
Oakville’s ‘Act of Faith’ production is certainly barebones. The props are an upright piano; a recliner; wheelchair and a 4-season-decorated tree replication. A small dais is creatively utilized by Reid in his Mitch persona talking straight to the audience expressing his innermost conflict of emotions. Carlin and Reid have previously performed together (ART comes immediately to mind) and their ability to intuitively react dramatically & facially to each other is perfectly suited to the subject matter as well as the opposing characters they portray. Carlin’s Morrie is a study in empathy, forgiveness and philosophy; Reid brings potent intensity to his reading of the writer’s introspection and evolving changes of psyche. The only directorial slip is in the timing…extending certain pauses would add to the overall impact.
There are comedic moments, all of which belong to Morrie. Their influence and effect help emphasize rather than mitigate the philosophical homilies that are the outstanding features of the actual Morrie Schwartz’s look on life. Forgiveness is a main platform plank of the man, even when he is facing an unspeakable end of life. His line ‘’Let it go” is another very personal instance that is the baggage this writer carries. My relationship with the muse’s family was animosity and dislike on both sides. A social afternoon with Bernie Kopell (The Loveboat’s Dr. Bricker) led to our discovering we both suffered the same negative in-law affiliation. Based on his experience, he imparted the same credo to me.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE packs a punch. Not overly long, and without an intermission, audiences will find that a bond will develop with both the characters on stage. We’ve all met Morrie’s and have associated with Mitch’s. They are both real! Tuesdays will be at West End Studio Theatre on the North Service Road with performances today, Sunday; Thursday; Friday & Saturday. Tuesday… Mitch visits Morrie’s grave!