In stories where two opposites fall into the same world, there’s often a thread that manages to tie them together. Something, somehow, connects them.
Although not suprising, it’s more satisfying than two likely characters falling in love or a couple of people that make sense getting through hardship together.
This dynamic is displayed across the decades and when it makes its stop in Grace and Glorie, it hits home in a special kind of way.
The latest ECHO Players production, written by Tom Ziegler and directed by Kelly Barnum, the story of an elderly rural woman nearing death and a young woman, fresh from New York City, who comes to take care of her, confronts themes of mortality and friendship in a refreshing and straight forward way.
Vicky Barta is able to capture her multi-faceted character, 90-year-old Grace, with a sense of ease. She’s an old, sick woman who describes herself as a “redneck.”
Coming off as ingenuine or hokey while speaking in a Virginian accent could have been easily fatal to the play, but Barta managed to embody her character earnestly and with candor. It’s the highlight of Grace and Glorie — a performance so convincing, you forget you’re 5,000 kilometres away from the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The eye is drawn to Barta throughout the play who doesn’t stop moving, breathing or speaking as Grace for a moment.
The mountains of Virginia were realized spot on in a set that seemed to capture a moment in between life and death.
Half-finished quilts lined the side of the stage, embroidery sat beside the old wooden dining set. You get the feeling that Grace’s life stopped mid-stitch when she got sick.
Gloria, the toney Harvard MBA graduate, ably played by Sherri Wade, is a harder character to swallow. Initially coming off as cold, she softens as the play goes on. Little by little, the audience is able to see an in-depth character, and the more we get to know Gloria, the better the play becomes.
Perhaps less comedy than the audience expected, the play confronts death head on, instead of dancing around it.
Grace teaches lessons about morality in a subtle and beautiful way, without trying to or sounding trite. At the play’s end, you’re left with a feeling that Grace’s lessons will stay with Gloria, and perhaps leave her changed forever.
Punchy lines delivered throughout the play, usually of the sarcastic, self-deprecating variety, received laughs from the crowd.
No doubt a demanding feat for a cast of just two people, the two-hour play relies soley on Wade and Barta to hold the other up.
The connection from the two is apparent.
Just like their charcters, these women have been through something together, and it translates to the stage.
Ultimately, the play was well-received by the loyal and attentive audience that any ECHO play attracts.
The show will continue to run until Sunday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Village Theatre at 110 West 2nd Ave, Qualicum Beach.
Tickets are $23 regular admission, $20 for seniors and $14 for seniors and can be purchased online at echoplayers.ca.