Comic Drama 

BLT's Grace and Glorie showcases top actresses

Boise Little Theater is offering a touching play by Tom Ziegler that delves into the hearts, minds and spiritual souls of two women, lacing a somber and touching story with sharp humor. The final three shows will be presented this weekend.

The director, Wendy Koeppl, maintains a sprightly pace in spite of the talky nature of the play and with a sensitive touch lets two of Boise's finest actresses work their own magic.

Grace and Glorie avoids being a gloomy play, primarily because of the superb performances of Sue Galligan as the 90-year-old, illiterate Grace Stiles and Janet Summers as the sophisticated, atheistic New York executive Gloria Whitmore.

Grace is terminally ill and has returned to her rustic home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to die. Gloria, a hospice volunteer, visits Grace, brings her the medicine she left in the hospital and tries to provide comfort and companionship for her final days. But Grace is not a model patient, and Gloria gets more than she bargains for as she finds the old woman irascible, set in her ways and adamantly hostile to the society woman she considers an intruder.

Galligan does a wonderful job of gradually revealing the character of the feisty Grace. In spite of her growing bouts with pain, she displays a wicked sense of humor, intense faith in God and a will of iron. She lives by all the old bromides and has an answer for everything.

Summers is hilarious as the city girl trying to make a fire in the old wood stove, figure out how the water pump works and gather "messy" eggs. She tries so hard to be helpful, you have to feel sorry for her and admire her ingenuity. Gradually, as the two women talk, argue and reminisce, they begin to find some common experiences and tragedies and form a precarious bond.

Their battle of wills never ends, but, to the accompaniment of bulldozers, chain saws and dynamite, as developers destroy the apple orchard outside the cabin, the two consider and debate the important questions of life, its trials, rewards and purpose. And death ... death is never far from the substance of this play, but through Galligan's incredible performance, it becomes an acceptable and bearable player in this game of life.

As is usual at BLT, the set design and construction are outstanding. The crew even includes "log specialists" who put together a whole cabin on stage. Cricket Langworthy's set decoration is also noteworthy.

The metaphors and symbolism roll lavishly through the script, from the title through the apple orchard and even in discussions of Eve's legacy to women; but somehow you don't mind, because the two actresses are such a delight to watch, and their timing and reactions are so impeccable that you don't want the experience to end.

Grace and Glorie by Tom Ziegler directed by Wendy Koeppl

Boise Little Theater, 100 E. Fort St.

8 p.m., $10, Nov. 4, 5, 6

7:30 p.m., $8 bargain Wednesday Nov. 3

Reservations at 342-5104, more info at www.boiselittletheater.org.

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