The Trip to Bountiful Theatre Review - A Must See Production!

 

 

This is the story of a girl and guy and his mother; but mostly it’s about his mother. The Trip to Bountiful transports us to the calmer, simpler time of Houston, 1953. Elderly matriarch Mrs. Carrie Watts (Cicely Tyson) is up again, in the middle of the night, because the city won’t let her sleep. Country folk at heart, it is not long before her son Ludie (Blair Underwood), restless and unable to sleep as well, is up with her looking for a hymn, a newspaper article, something to quiet his mind. Ludie’s early rising is followed by Jessie Mae (Vanessa Williams) waking and sudden a night that was rumble of the night boils over with bickering.

 

 

 

Jessie Mae doesn’t like the fact the Carrie is up this time of night. She doesn’t like Carrie did not put a recipe precisely when she instructed her to. She doesn’t like that Carrie’s government check has not arrived yet because she wants to get her nails done. But most of all, Jessie Mae doesn’t like that Ludie does not believe her when she insists that Carrie will foolishly run off again to Bountiful the first chance she gets.

 

This time Jessie Mae is right. The very next day, with the suitcase she has already packed, and the government check she has intercepted in the mail, with Ludie at work and Jessie Mae gone off to meet her girlfriend at the drugstore, Mrs. Watts sneaks away to the bus station, determined to visit her childhood friend in the blissfully peaceful town of Bountiful.

 

 

Since her last attempt, getting to Bountiful is a bit more complicated. Carrie decides to take the bus since Ludie knows from her last attempt to look for her at the train station. She doesn’t anticipate that there is no bus that takes her straight to Bountiful. She doesn’t anticipate that there would be no place for her to cash her government check. And she certainly does not anticipate that Ludie would be so close on her heels so quickly. Fortunately, for Carrie, a young soldier’s wife Thelma (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is struck by her efforts and determination and is compelled to shepherd the elderly woman on her journey for as long as their paths coincide.

 

 

Never once does Carrie think about how the tiny of town of Bountiful may not be the as she remembers from twenty years prior. She is in for a rude awakening, if she in fact makes it there before Ludie or her own frailty catch up with her. 

I Loved this Show! This production could not have been more simplistic with fifty-foot mural backdrops and scenes that included no more than six people at once. And while the costumes and set design were impressive in their authenticity, this play is all about the great performance rendered by every actor in this ensemble.

 

 

It was pure joy to see Ms. Cicely Tyson in stage, portraying Mrs. Carrie Watts, the precocious, stubborn, deceptively sharp-witted grandmom every family recognizes within their own. Vanessa Williams shines as the controlling, impatient, barely likable daughter-in-law who treats Carrie as if she should be seen and not hear. Blair Underwood gives as masterfully measured performance as the loving son and husband caught in the middle of the two strong-willed women. And Jurnee Smollett-Bell shines as the sweet, unassuming bystander unwittingly drawn into the curious family drama. One might say that director Michael Wilson is starting with a loaded deck, but lesser directors would squander the impressive line up of power-hitter. His deft touch shines through the performances on stage. Well Done.

 

 

This is the show I have been waiting for all season. The Trip to Bountiful garnered none of the bells and whistle typically hung upon productions at the Ahmanson. Richly drawn characters that you can identify with and root for, and beautifully image laden oratory that makes one long for more production that are not “spectacle-contingent.”; productions where the performances are King.

 

 

 

Go See This Show! 

The Trip to Bountiful is running up on now through November 2, 2014 at:

 

Ahmanson Theatre

135 N. Grand Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90012

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