CLOSE WINDOW

CRITICAL ACCLAIM for “THE DAYS ARE AS GRASS”

Excerpts from “The Days Are As Grass’ — A ‘Spirit’ Delight”

The Lincoln County News, Damariscotta, Maine, June 07, 2012

By Eleanor Cade Busby

The Theater of the Spirit welcomed new director Phyllis McQuaide to their number on Friday night. Her first venture, Carol Hall’s “The Days Are As Grass” was well done and skillfully delivered.

The new pieces are from an unpublished work by Hall… It was a pleasure to see new material, particularly well written and often hilarious dialogue, interspersed with poignant scenes and monologues.

The subject matter may at first blush appear aimed at the lives of the elderly; however, the topics apply to everyone and should appeal to all ages except for young children.

[In} “Vacation,” a couple spend most of their holiday watching a man and a woman (not her husband)… delight in the arrival of said husband.

“Lifetime” highlights … a couple who have been together so long they barely need words to express themselves…[as] they confront aging together in a gentle way that reminds of grandparents and farmhouses and birds flying away.

“The Days Are As Grass”  is stellar…[as] a couple shares cocktails and truth.

“The River Jordan Lamp” is a tour de force performance.  “Sensations” [depicts] a long-married couple who sit and wait for, well, something that may or may not happen, in their bathrobes, with pill bottles. They talk more and share more in a few minutes than many couples may in years. “Last Will and Testament”… is a … screamingly funny… monologue… a woman who must be in control while all the time being hilariously out of control. “Jack and Jill” offers a clever twist with two adult children bemoaning their long-divorced parents’ reconciliation. “The Last Word” is heartbreaking; [a husband] wheels his wife around in a wheelchair, talking on and on and telling her many things and she sits unresponsive… with a twist at the end.

The actors [ten] were honest in their portrayals of these people, and that is refreshing.  It is also quite lovely to see and hear new words… [The play] looks at us, as we are, with all our foibles, and still allows us to walk out feeling glad we came. The poignant moments are not maudlin, and when something takes the audience unaware, the arena style setting allows a shared experience.

[This] well-done production continues [through] June 9. Stop in and see some fresh faces and enjoy an evening of new works in excellent hands.

Audience Comment:

Thank you so much for producing such a heart warming show. I loved "Days are as Grass". What a find. It was so well acted and well directed and so unbelievably well written. Well, it was just plain good theater! You clearly have a vibrant theater community in Damariscotta and I am looking forward to making the hour drive (not bad at all) to see many more productions of the Theater of the Spirit and other shows done by your other local groups. Just fabulous.


WOODSTOCK FRINGE FESTIVAL, BYRDCLIFFE THEATRE

Excerpts from LOVE AND DEATH ON THE FRINGE
-
Rebecca Daniels, Woodstock Times

A delightful blend of humor and poignancy pervades Carol Hall’s new play: The Days are as Grass. Vivian Matalon has done a skillful job directing this entertaining yet deeply meaningful piece in which seasoned professionals Nicola Sheara and Brent Erdy portray fourteen different characters. Playwright Hall is an award-winning lyricist and composer, best known for writing the score for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The Days are as Grass is a departure for her, but you wouldn’t know it. The nine one-act plays, taken as a whole, play, constitute a beautifully and intelligently written exploration of the universal themes of love and death. Nicola Sheara’s performance in this challenging theatre piece is not to be missed. With minimal changes in costume, makeup and hair, the Broadway actress transforms herself in each scene. It’s an extraordinary feat for any actor. Though the sullen siblings of Jack and Jill may brim with the youthful energy of the indignant, most of the plays are indeed about older people. The tone is always a blend of the funny and the touching, as the characters march bravely into that last colorful sunset, still fully engaged by life’s changes, love’s quirks, and the surprises of age.



Watching 'Grass' grow is a lot of fun
-
Fernando Valdivia, Times Herald-Record

Carol Hall's evening of plays — "The Days Are as Grass" — is receiving its world premiere at the Woodstock Fringe Festival of Theatre & Song at the Byrdcliffe Theatre. These wryly humorous and poignant vignettes feature two versatile actors portraying 14 characters at a point in their lives when introspection and accommodation have gradually replaced initiative and self-interest. Cleverly utilizing a pair of upholstered daybeds, a few props and an eclectic wardrobe, scenic design consultant Michael Miller and costume designer Tracy Christiansen provide the actors with the basic essentials for their respective characterizations. As directed by Vivian Matalon, a Tony-winner for the 1980 revival of "Morning's at Seven," Brent Erdy and Nicola Sheara offer insightful portraits of couples and individuals ranging from rural folk to cosmopolitan sophisticates. Each play is introduced by displaying its title on an easel. In "Life Time," we meet an elderly farming couple whose marriage has survived his unpleasant mother as well as the problems and crises common among families. Exchanging her baggy sweater for a tailored blazer, Sheara returns in "Last Will and Testament" as an affluent doyenne informing her psychiatrist with some ambivalence how she plans to distribute her valuable possessions among her relatives and friends. In "The River Jordan Lamp," Sheara transforms herself yet again into a lonely woman living in a trailer who befriends a Mexican migrant worker's son, fascinated by a cherished lamp. Erdy is equally skillful in assuming the persona of each of his characters. Whether expressing vicarious excitement at observing a pair of adulterous fellow travelers on a flight to the Bahamas or playing a jilted gay actor tentatively resuming an abandoned friendship with a book-loving friend, Erdy adapts his gestures and vocal and facial expressions to suit each role. The play's title, taken from Psalm 103, establishes the play's underlying theme of life's precious impermanence and our senescent reconciliations. Although the hint of mortality lingers at the fringe of every scene, the plays are neither morbid nor given to despondence. The dialogue is actually quite witty – as to be expected from Hall, the songwriter behind "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

©2004 Orange County Publications. All rights reserved.