Few things are as infuriating as family. Those whom we hold dearest are often those who can frustrate us the most. They're also the ones who bring us joy, laughter and security.
When parents get older and children take on the role of caregivers, it's a scary situation for everyone, and it's not easy to proceed gracefully.
Such is the world of Velocity of Autumn, the latest play by Eric Coble, having its world premiere at Boise Contemporary Theater. Audiences are introduced to Lillian (Mary Portser) and her son Tom (BCT Artistic Director Matthew Cameron Clark), who are thrust back into each other's lives after years of estrangement when Lillian threatens to burn down her New York brownstone if her other two children try to force her to move into a retirement home.
What follows is a delicate tale that walks a tightrope between sadness and joy, fear and hope, and love and frustration--much like family does. Anyone who has ever watched a family member age or faced aging themselves, will relate to this well-written, touching production that leaves audiences both reflective and contemplative.
At nearly 80 years old, Lillian is faced not only with the unpleasant realities of aging, but with an overwhelming fear of losing herself in the process--a particularly painful realization for someone who has always prided herself on independence. With the threat of being forced from her home, Lillian barricades herself inside and booby-traps the house with homemade Molotov cocktails.
Tom is a wayward soul, moving from place to place, searching for somewhere he fits. When he shows up at his mother's second-story window and climbs in, the kindred souls begin the painful journey of admitting to their own fears and failings, while redefining the complicated parent-child relationship.
Portser and Clark turn in strong performances in the 90-minute production, each drawing out the nuanced undertones of the poignant dialogue. Their world is another skillfully designed set where a lifetime of memories penetrates the walls of an aging brownstone, juxtaposed with the Molotov cocktails found in nearly every nook and cranny.
Coble's dialogue is both playful and touching and had the opening night audience not only laughing but nodding their heads with understanding.
While the realities of getting older can be frustrating and frightening, a little humor, a whole lot of heart and a helping hand can go a long way toward mixing the ugly and the beautiful--much like family and The Velocity of Autumn.