Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, May 21, 2001

Stage review
'Grace and Glorie' a fine study of endurance

By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Advertiser Drama Critic

"Grace and Glorie" made its Hawai'i debut last year as a reading by the Army Community Theatre, so it's a special delight to compare a fully staged production at Manoa Valley Theatre with the one we "saw" in our imaginations several months ago.

Shari Lynn, left, and Jo Pruden play two very different women who span the age gap to find friendship and inspiration in "Grace and Glorie."
Happily, it's just as good. But, of course, it would have to be, because it reunites director Vanita Rae Smith with her original cast — Jo Pruden and Shari Lynn. The new dimension is a real stage set by Mary Lewis, and the one-room country cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains is just as rickety as the one we created in our imaginations.

The play by Tom Ziegler is a wonderful two-character study, and Pruden and Lynn are delightfully cast as the old woman dying of cancer and the transplanted New Yorker who volunteers as her hospice caretaker. It's an effort in discovery as each learns new insights into herself while confronting the other's foreign experience.

Pruden plays Grace Stiles, a widowed country woman who has buried a husband and five sons and is now approaching her own death on the remote farm that has long been her home. A positive person who loves life, she has endured a long marriage in a melancholy family and is counting on her faith in God to overcome her fear of death.

"Grace and Glorie"
 •  7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 4 p.m. Sundays through June 3.
 •  Manoa Valley Theatre. $22. 988-6131.
Lynn is middle-aged matron and former business woman Glorie Whitmore, struggling with depression over losing her young son in an auto accident and busily trying to forget. The doctor-recommended change of scenery to rural Virginia has sent her into a mild culture shock.

As Glorie makes the daily trip up 20 miles of rough mountain road to visit Grace, both women find hidden sides to their personalities. Glorie triumphs over an antique wood stove to boil an egg, and Grace tolerates a bit of make-up to admit that she is pretty.

Smith moves the dialogue at a crisp pace but allows the humor plenty of opportunity for expression.

Pruden's performance is beautifully controlled, carefully articulated and masterfully timed.

Lynn is more offhand and spontaneous, but always right on the mark.

Sparks initially fly as the characters' rough edges cause friction. But as the action progresses, the two women create a warm and lovely counterpoint that gentles each character.

There is little conventional action in the plot, but each woman ultimately comes to forgive herself and to gracefully transition into her accepted reality. Grace is less rigid and willing to rest. Glorie gives up her guilt and is able to breathe freely.

"Grace and Glorie" is engaging and easy to love.