On Golden Pond
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“On Golden Pond.” running February 12-28, 2016
The flawed hero and villain, Norman Thayer, is turning eighty; and his aging heart is arrhythmic. He and his unfaltering wife Ethel, who is ten years his junior, have returned to their summer home on Golden Pond, in Maine just as they have done for many years past. The house itself is a narrative of their life together, with memorabilia, photographs, books, and bric-a-brac marking the interior, like the dog-eared pages of a worn and well-read book. In this organic setting on Golden Pond among all the natural phenomena and living things a man battles nature’s ebbs and flows. Ethel is Norman’s anchor, however, she is not blind to his faults: he is proud and willfully controversial, an “old poop,” really, but, for her at least, a lovable one.
Unlike her mother, Chelsea Thayer, the couple’s forty-two year old daughter, is deeply troubled by her father’s manner. She carries the bitterness of her childhood and of what she perceives to be her father’s disapproval and disregard of her: that she was not a boy and was too fat to do back-flips off the pier into the pond. She has relationship and self-image issues, and she blames Norman.
Finally, son to Chelsea’s latest love interest is thirteen-year-old Billy. Left on Golden Pond for several days while his father and Chelsea go off to get married, Billy is able to escape his own feelings of abandonment and frustration and form a significant attachment to Norman in particular.
There is an undercurrent running beneath this play that is as strong and poignant as any undercurrent running beneath any of the great stage classics of the American theatre library. It is as present as the lake itself, as the loons, and as the brilliantly humorous heartbreak on every page of this beautiful play, yet itis never spoken, never overtly acted out on the stage. But it is the thrust that keeps this family alive.
Norman Thayer, Jr. – Barry Glassman
Ethel Thayer – Becky Engborg
Charlie Martin – Troy Brokenshire
Chelsea Thayer Wayne – Syd Stauffer
Billy Ray – Luke Raso
Bill Ray – James Pfeffer