Theater Tuscaloosa and Shelton State Community College presented the comedy-drama “On the golden pondfrom February 25 to March 6.
The play, written by Ernest Thompson and directed by Paul K. Looney, took place at the Bean-Brown Theater on the Martin campus of Shelton State Community College.
“On the Golden Pond” was inspired by the Oscar-winning film of the same name starring Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.
The play tells the story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, an elderly couple played by Dianna Shaw and Gary Wise, who visit their summer home in New England accompanied by their daughter Chelsea, her new fiancé and her husband. son. The couple face the reality of aging and reminisce about the relationships they’ve developed over the past 48 summers on Golden Pond.
The Tuscaloosa Theater play had only one set, so set designer Lynne Hutton used every inch of the stage to depict the Thayers’ cozy cabin.
The details of the set – of the chronicle broken screen door to the large stone fireplace, the fishing rods hanging on the wall, the rotary telephone and the countless books hanging on the wall — added to reality escape the cabin represented for Norman, Ethel and their family.
The play opens with Norman pacing around the lake house as if he had never been there before, foreshadowing his struggle with the early stages of dementia.
Audiences have come to know Norman’s character as a rude, headstrong man with a pessimistic outlook on life, as evidenced by his deadpan responses. When Ethel asked, “Can you believe this is our 48th summer here?” he replied, “Probably our last.”
Norman’s demure delivery of dry humor received laugh after laugh from the audience. From the very first line, he captures the audience’s attention.
Despite his behavior, Ethel showed unconditional love for him, but audiences saw her loss of hope for the future as Norman’s health declined.
Shaw displayed raw emotion, crying reluctantly with each performance, as the couple’s experiences unfold alongside real-life encounters of aging with someone you love.
“The line that grabs me is when she says, ‘Do you want to take the book with us?’ and he says, ‘No, leave it here, I’ll read it next year,’ but she doesn’t know if there will be a next year,” Shaw said.
Theater Tuscaloosa’s “On Golden Pond” was a nostalgic escape that’s sure to leave you with a smile on your face and a tear in your eye.
Tuscaloosa Theater presents the 2022 Feast of One Acts from March 23 to 27, “Les Mamalogues” from May 20 to 29 and “Mamma Mia! from July 15 to 22.
Questions? Email the Culture Office at [email protected].