Thoughts & Musings

Beautiful, Poignant “Trip to Bountiful” at 2nd Story

A non-Christmas play that 'catches the spirit of Christmas'.

by Don Fowler, Warwick Beacon
  • 3rd December 20143/12/14
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Director Ed Shea calls Horton Foote’s “The Trip To Bountiful” a non-Christmas play that “catches the spirit of Christmas”.

The story of an aging, frail Carrie Watts, living in Houston with her wimpy son and self-centered, domineering daughter-in-law, will touch your heart, as the old woman wants nothing more than to return to her childhood home.

She has tried to run before, but has always been brought back to the small Houston apartment, where she sleeps in the parlor and is loudly criticized for even the smallest action by the shrill Jessie Mae.

Son Ludie (Nathanael Lee) is no help. He tries to make peace, but the lack of a backbone only makes things worse.

After constant nit-picking by her daughter-in-law, Carrie takes off for Bountiful with her pension check in hand, which Jessie Mae usually grabs to keep her in Coca Cola and trips to the hairdresser.

First stop is the bus station, where she meets a lonely, sympathetic woman (Erin Olson). The two quickly bond as they travel to Harrison, the closest town to Bountiful, where Carrie discovers that her former best friend has just died.

She is befriended by the local sheriff (Joe Henderson), who takes her to the rundown family homestead, as son and daughter-in-law arrive to bring her home.

That is basically the story. While it doesn’t seem like a lot, the joy of this play is in the subtleties.

Here are three people, all looking for something more in their lives, and, in the end achieving some very basic, but important goals.

Carrie just “had to come” to Bountiful and relive her happy memories. Jessie Mae had to lay down some basic rules for her mother-in-law. And poor, hen-pecked Ludie just had to find some peace and self-worth.

The beauty of this intermission-less hour and 20 minute play lies in two incredible, completely opposite performances by Paula Faber as Carrie and Lara Hakeem as Jessie Mae, two of my favorite 2nd Story actors who always rise up to challenging roles.

You feel for Carrie right from the get-go, as she sits staring out her window, patiently putting up with Jessie Mae’s constant haggling. She quietly accepts setbacks and put downs, as she steadfastly makes her way to Bountiful, attaining her goal of inner peace. The closing scene may bring a tear to your eye.

You also feel for Jessie Mae. You feel like you want to wring her neck!

She was so good and so believable in her role that I wanted to hiss when she took her bow.

Three cheers for the ingenious set designer, Trevor Elliott, who helped the flow of the story by providing photographic backdrops that smoothly changed the scenes from a crowded apartment to two bus stations to the family homestead at Bountiful.

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