Oil Lamp Theater’s LATER LIFE Review – Thoughtful, Hopeful, Real

In my humble opinion everyone over 50 – make that over 30 – should see this play! Those of us old enough to have some er, “perspective” on life, love and second chances, may sound like we’re pontificating, so here’s how The New Yorker puts it:

"Seldom can a sad story have been told with more fun and humor than this in A. R. Gurney’s Later Life. There’s no     dramatist like him on either side of the Atlantic…Later Life is, I think, the best of them all."

To say that Later Life is Gurney’s best is quite the tall order. It’s hard to imagine that he could possibly top Sylvia, the story of the world’s most devoted dog or Love Letters, the touching story of deep, lasting love. But, Gurney, initiated into American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2004 and highly respected for his body of work, always gives his characters and audience plenty to think about.

Later Life asks (but let’s you answer) the question, “What would you do if you had a second chance at love?” We’re talking about the “The One that Got Away,” (can you hear Judy Garland singing it?) the one whose memory “takes you back…”

The actors in Later Life are so authentic, so true to their characters, it’s easy to forget they are actors at all. Henry Michael Odum, who plays the risk-averse Austin, is edgy and tentative but longing and sincere. Conflicted, complicated Ruth, played so sympathetically by Julie Partyka, stands at the crossroads of more of the same or …?

Boy, do we ever need the comic relief of Claudia Garrison, who plays all the other women and Ed Kuffert who plays all the other men!

Gurney is the master of bitter/sweet/ happy/sad/ up then down. And nobody knows better how to portray all that than Oil Lamp Theater.

In fact, Barbara J. Anderson, the director of Later Life, was on hand afterwards to share her insights into the characters and one of Gurney’s primary influences, Henry James and his great parable, “The Beast in the Jungle.” As she explains in her excellent director’s notes, Later Life is very “James-y” because it “examines loneliness, fate, love, and death as it speculates on the worth and meaning of human life.”

Do you have the answers to these questions? See Later Life. You may be surprised by the many questions it raises and the many answers you now question.

Performances of Later Life run from April 30th through June 14th, Thursdays through Sundays.
• For evening performances, doors open at 7:30 and shows begin at 8:00.
• For Sunday matinees, doors open at 2:30 and the show begins at 3:00.
• Oil Lamp Theater is a BYOB establishment.
• Tickets are $35 and are available through or at the Oil Lamp office on Mondays and Thursdays from Noon-5pm. Group rates are available.

The Oil Lamp Theater opened its doors in Glenview in July, 2012. In Oil Lamp’s unique environment, the theater space is just as much a part of the artistic canvas as the carefully selected theatrical productions. The Oil Lamp experience begins with a warm greeting that welcomes guests into a home-like environment. It includes candlelight and complimentary fresh-baked cookies. The performances take audiences on an intimate journey to explore the human condition through the lens of relationships and love. Oil Lamp Theater is located at 1723 Glenview Road, just west of the intersection of Waukegan and Glenview Roads.

For more information or email at [email protected] or call our box office at (847) 834-0738.

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