Review by Danny Gaisin
ISimcoe Little Theatre’s staging of Kim Carney’s “MOONGLOW” is a dramatic interpretation of two older people committed to a care facility due to the onslaught of dementia.
It is a basic tenet of writer’s )& supposedly politicians) to declare any biases or partiality before putting pen to paper. Hence, the following: – Both my muse and I, on advice from our doctors, underwent cognitive analysis and learned that there has been some rational deterioration. The prognosis is pessimistic. So, a play about the symptoms and manifestations of the disease will obviously prejudice any critique by yours truly.
One of the symptoms of dementia is regression.
* Carney’s play illustrates same via the vehicle of two sets of characters playing the same roles – 75 years apart. Moonglow is considered a comedy-drama but to this scribe, it’s much more the latter. Director Julie Buffett and her assistant Leeanne Guzzo also seem to emphasize the dramatic aspect yet the drollery of some situations and dialogue are not overlooked. Both old-timers have offspring who are unable to cope with the diminishing capacities of their respective parents. It is this aspect of relationships that touched both Terry & I most viscerally. When one of the characters mentions ‘cowardice’, I cringed…guilty in both dealing with my late mother and late aunt. The muse bore almost all the brunt of decision-making.
Playing the elderly protagonists are Laine Williams as ‘Maxine’ and Joe Callaghan as ‘Joe’; or ‘Bob’ as Maxine calls him. Both are adept at subtly displaying the minutiae and idiosyncrasies of dementia as well as the more familiar overt outbursts that are associated with the disease; i.e. anger, frustration & withdrawal. The duo’s alter egos are portrayed by Rylea O’Toole & John Sherman. The challenges of duet dialogue as both the contemporary and historical personas blend is immaculate and effective. Great theatre and meticulous direction.
Pivotal roles are those of the harried offspring. Angela Carvalho is Maxine’s daughter, and she’s a powerhouse. Chafe and annoyance have led her to her mother’s committal but guilt and rationales are her defenses. It’s she who admits to cowardice. Her male counterpart is Randy McGivern and unfortunately he pales against Carvalho’s dynamism. The catalyst role of assisted care facility manager is Dianne Cowan and the directors have her understate the portrayal. She never loses her cool. I recall my admiration for the staff at Mom’s Toronto facility for the patience they displayed. Superhuman!
Seeing MOONGLOW was and is cathartic for us, and hopefully educational plus sympathy building for the audience. Given that most of the audience were our contemporaries, the extended laughter seemed surprising.
MOONGLOW is at the S.L.T. until September 29th. It may be community theatre but it’s staged professionally, and worthwhile. Certainly not to be missed.
P.S. September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month!