Man, Village Playhouse is really out to tug on the old heartstrings with this one. In the final season before the ambitious and momentous move from the Brookgreen Towncenter location, Village rolls out The Trip to Bountiful, an emotional character piece about an old woman (played by Samille Basler with her usual artistry) who longs to go home. Poignant, right?
Carrie Watts (Basler) lives with her son Ludie (Jeff Jordan, a bit too much of a child) and his wife Jessie Mae (Liz Duren, a delectable shrew). Carrie and Jessie Mae are at each other’s throats, and Ludie finds himself in the middle of their territorial disputes. There’s not much territory to fight over, though — the three live in a two-room apartment in 1953 Texas. The apartment is well designed by director Keely Enright, and well built by David Reinwald. The three are on top of each other, and you can feel in tension in the small spaces.
Carrie longs for the lands she grew up on in Bountiful. It’s been twenty years, and she hasn’t been back since. With her pension check and suitcase, Carrie takes off for a last trip before she dies.
The play originated as a television play in 1953 before being developed as a major motion picture in 1985. The film won an Academy Award for Best Actress for the performance of Geraldine Page as Carrie Watts.
Village Playhouse thrives on the performances of its ensemble, and this is no exception. The show is a slow moving piece, so its strength is in these performances. Basler touches something in you from the outset, while Duren is a little firecracker, butting heads with Basler with entertaining results. Jeff Jordan is solid but lacks the spark that his leading ladies have. The ensemble casting is always strong at Village, and it comes off like a Cohen Brothers film here. That’s good, for anybody out there that doesn’t know. Sierra Garland is absolutely lovely as the nice, Southern lady that Carrie meets on her journey to Bountiful. Their budding friendship is pleasing to see develop. And there’s a scene toward the end of the show between Carrie and the station operator, played by Fred Pittman, which is absolutely hilarious. Ah, the elderly when they come together.
It’s a very pleasing show. The plot isn’t nearly as interesting as some other fare, but it’s a definitely entertaining performance piece that is well directed and expertly acted.
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