Town Players Little Theatre, Newtown: In keeping with the season, Town Players Little Theatre of Newtown produced a most appropriate play “The Trip to Bountiful” by playwright Horton Foote. This is the story of Carrie Watts, an old widow who desperately wants to return to her home in Bountiful, Texas. She has been living with her son Ludie and daughter-in-law Jessie Mae in Houston. City life in Houston is too big a change for Mother Watts, who is tired of being cramped in an apartment and more tired of being so badly treated by her selfish daughter-in-law.
With a weak heart and more sick spells than ever, Carrie wants to return to her home in the backwoods countryside of Bountiful. She has attempted ill-fated escapes before. She now realizes that this may be her last chance. In her mind, the Bountiful she remembers is the home of her youth and filled with wonderful memories. There was plenty of land and she felt free and happy there. When her son leaves for work and her daughter-in-law goes off for a soda at the drugstore, Carrie runs away again. Does she make it home? What is home? Can you ever regain the past? These questions are beautifully answered by the Town Players of Newtown.
Seamlessly directed by Brian DeToma, Chairman of the Town Players, each actor captures the heart of the characters they portray. Deborah Carlson, who appears courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, delivers a professional performance laced with grace and tenderness in spite of the mental abuse she endures from her mean-spirited and selfish daughter-in-law. Every twitch of pain and every moment of longing are captured in Carlson’s facial expressions and gestures. A master in body language, she is thoroughly convincing as an aged widow who loves her son, but dislikes living in cramped quarters and longs for space.
Rachel Ames plays Jessie Mae with equal parts of spunk and spite. She is as offensive in her treatment of Carrie as she is inconsiderate of her loyal husband. Her performance is so realistic that the audience immediately dislikes this character. Ames has her character down pat.
So too Christopher Bird who plays Ludie, the sensitive son and tolerant husband. His performance is steadfast from start to finish and though one might want him to lash out at his wife, it is not in Ludie’s sensitive and caring nature. His performance is thoroughly polished. His character reminds one of the son in “Driving Me Daisy.” Both are torn between pleasing their wives and their mothers.
Amanda Brenner also delivers an outstanding performance as the stranger at the bus station who comes to know Carrie. Also delivering fine performances and contributing to the overall success of this production are Mark Rubino, Roberto Perez, and Tom Torpey. Overall, the entire cast did a great job in bringing these characters to life.
Nick Kaye designed the lights and a minimal set that functions extremely well with set changes. The production plays through Dec. 2. This is one play that will tug on your heartstrings and make you long for going home for the holidays.
Box office: 203-270- 9144.
Joanne Greco Rochman is a founder and former member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected].