The Trip to Bountiful
A production need not have the word "Christmas" or "Miracle" in its title to effectively convey the holiday spirit, and I wholeheartedly agree.by Christopher Verleger, EDGE
In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy repeatedly proclaims, “There’s no place like home.” Whether that statement brings to mind pleasant thoughts or painful memories, it certainly holds true for all of us.
2nd Story Theatre’s Ed Shea, director of their latest effort, Horton Foote’s touching family drama, “The Trip to Bountiful,” reminded the audience last Sunday that a production need not have the word “Christmas” or “Miracle” in its title to effectively convey the holiday spirit, and I wholeheartedly agree with him.
Simply put, Carrie Watts (Paula Faber) wants to go home. After having been holed up for too long in a crowded Houston dwelling with her dictatorial daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae (Lara Hakeem) and complacent son, Ludie (Nathanael Lee), the elder Southern lady is determined to return to Bountiful, the small Texas town where she grew up.
After a series of botched escape attempts, Carrie travels by bus to a nearby town a short distance from Bountiful, assisted by Thelma (Erin Olson), a kind, young woman on her way to stay with family while her husband is away at war. Unfortunately, she arrives in the middle of the night with nary a cab in sight, and to make matters worse, Carrie realizes she left her purse behind.
Ludie, meanwhile, is on his mother’s trail, with Jessie Mae in tow, who would just as soon let Carrie wander off indefinitely if it weren’t for her much-needed pension check. When Carrie is awakened by the town Sheriff (Joe Henderson), after having fallen asleep on a bench at the depot, she begs him to take her to Bountiful before her son arrives, even just for a short while.
Although the play was written in 1953 and takes place during that era, the premise of someone’s longing or desire to return home — to reminisce, for closure or to say goodbye for the last time — is timeless. Furthermore, since most of us are likely to visit our hometown and reunite with family and friends during the holiday season, this particular story is especially relevant and profoundly touches upon the significance of our surroundings and how they shape us throughout life.