Stopping By Review - The Cycle of Life

Talented, award winning playwright and actress, Barbara Tarbuck has developed a play which triggers lots of unanswered questions in most of us. STOPPING BY deals with her very personal exploration of love, illness, aging, death, and the meaning of life. With vigor and consummate skill, Barbara presents events which will involve everyone in the audience who has ever dealt with any of these troubling and often traumatic experiences. To quote the author, “It’s funny getting old, like falling off the train of life… and now we must walk… we’re all just stopping by, aren’t we?”

Barbara Tarbuck at the Burning Man Festival - Photo by Brian Drillinger

From the joyful exuberance of a newlywed, Barbara matures into a loving wife with a still exciting marriage to the love of her life. Then disaster strikes. Her husband Charlie has a stroke. Not only is he paralyzed, but his brilliant mind gradually falters until he barely recognizes his wife. When she tells hospital personnel not to engage in extraordinary measures to keep him alive, she realizes just how uncaring she appears to these strangers. Little do they see the pain which she is holding inside. Charlie finally dies after a protracted and painful time period for his caretaker wife. All That remains of Charlie is a small box of ashes. She muses about how a man like Charlie, larger-than-life, is now contained in so small a vessel. Her grief is prickly, tinged with sadness, anger, and unresolved questions.

Barbara Tarbuck - Photo by Jennifer L. Connolly

What to do with her pain and those few remnants of Charlie? She decides to go to the Burning Man festival in Nevada to deal with both these important issues. Perhaps she can say goodbye to Charlie and find herself at the same time. The Burning Man festival, held every year, has been described as a network of dreamers and doers. Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, where the pilgrims have the opportunity to express themselves and sometimes find the answers that have been eluding them.

Barbara Tarbuck - Photo by Jennifer Connolly

With extraordinary skill running the gamut of emotions, Barbara Tarbuck conveys passion, creative exuberance, joie de vivre, poignant melancholy, and final acceptance of the givens of life. Talented director Brian Drillenger coaxes the extremes of feeling from his talented colleague. Juliet Klanchar’s lighting and Jeff Gardner’s sound add important dimensions to the play. STOPPING BY is a gentle production with deep meanings just under the surface. It will certainly appeal to the many individuals currently going through “meaning of life” issues raised by illness, aging, and even death of their loved ones. But this play is not just about sadness and pain. It is also about getting past depressing events and developing acceptance. Resolution is intertwined with memory, and understanding this relationship can lead to self-fulfillment – and ultimately, happiness.

Barbara Tarbuck at Burning Man - Photo by Brian Drillinger

STOPPING BY runs through June 25, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on four consecutive Saturdays. The Edgemar Center for the Arts is located at 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90405. Tickets are $20. For information and reservations phone 310-392-7327 or go online to www.edgemarcenter.org/barbara-tarbuck-stopping/.

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