Peony Productions director Pam McClure hastens to inform us, both in her director’s notes and in her preshow remarks, that the decision to produce this show was taken before the spate of natural catastrophes that have been experienced of late. During those life-threatening (and deadly) events, the phenomenon of forgotten elderly people has been also brought to the fore.
Silver Lining by Sandi Toksvig is a play about five British residents, stranded in the Silver Retirement Home as a torrential storm swells the nearby river into flooding their building, and a young black woman who has come to rescue them. The women have been left alone; and, of course, weather prevents the staff from returning to their responsibilities. The program contains a small British-to-American dictionary to translate some Brit terms for us, which is helpful for those who don’t watch the BBC.
Pam McClure is to be applauded for giving so many women an opportunity to work their craft. The first act is a bit difficult. Dramatist Sandi Toksvig may have been attempting to show the non-sequential nature of day-room chatter, which creates a choppy feel, and must have been difficult for the actors. It’s also possible that more rehearsals were needed. (We saw this play on opening night, Sept. 22nd; and it’s fair to assume that it will tighten up during the run.)
The second act, which is also meatier, really comes together, as the characters succumb to their plight and begin revealing themselves, which perforce requires a broader range of emotions. We learn of the resentments between sisters, how the resident women cope with the changes in modern society, and how they can use their skills from the past to solve contemporary problems.
Gloria Bernhardt, the de-facto leader of this diverse group, is played with strength and authority by Karen Morgan Williams. Her Irish accent had the burr of authenticity.
Laura Bottomley plays the former amateur actress Maureen Cookson, whose only regret is she never became a movie star. Bottomley captures her character’s grumpiness and dramatic pretensions.
May Trickett, a wheelchair user who has a secret, and is the sister of June Partridge (see below), is capably portrayed by Laura Arwood, who keeps the character feisty and wise.
Freyja Helmer-Sindemark plays June, who is “only visiting” her sister; but her real purpose is to escape her husband and three sons, who make her life miserable. Helmer-Sindemark portrays a very unhappy woman, who finds no solace in her visit.
Hope Daley, the young woman who comes to rescue these women, is played by Lauren Foster-Lee, who sparkles in the role, keeping her character upbeat and very much “woke.”
Carol Oleson performs the woman identified only as “St. Michael,” whose facial expressions grab the scene. This lady pulls one surprise after another.
Jed, a young man who drops in on the six women, is played with halting ominousness by Will Harris. He has a bit of a surprise in store, too.
Fellow theater reviewer Kurt Benrud’s voice can be heard as the voice of BBC.
Sage Amthor Twiss has designed a perfect set to represent the day room of the retirement home. It is replete with a portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, center stage, and appropriate chairs, and occasional tables, and even a sign pointing to the “Water Closet.”
Sound effects, including some staticky radio signals and wonderful thunder in conjunction with lightning flashes and regular splays of scaturient rain, give a sense a reality to the drama.
Heather J. Strickland very adroitly choreographed two fights scenes for this show, which were as natural as could be.
This is a fun show that runs at the new Sonorous Road Theatre & Film Studio through Oct. 1st.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 20th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/silver-lining/Event?oid=8173593; and Sept. 20th Hillsborough, NC WHUP/104.7 FM interview with actors producer Judy McCord, director Pam McClure, and actors Karen Morgan Williams and Laura Arwood for “Lights Up!”: https://whupfm.org/episode/lights-up-92017-permanent-archive/.
Peony Productions presents SILVER LINING at 8 p.m. Sept. 29, 3 and 8 p.m. Sept. 30, and 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at Sonorous Road Theatre & Film Studio in the The Royal Bakery Building at 3801 Hillsborough St., Suite 113, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $18 ($14 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel), except $12 per person for groups of 10 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 919-803-3798 or https://www.sonorousroad.com/tickets/.
INFORMATION: 919-803-3798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Silver Lining (2017 play): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Lining_(play) (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Sandi Toksvig (Copenhagen, Denmark-born British playwright and screenwriter): http://sanditoksvig.com/ (official website), https://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsT/toksvig-sandi.html (Doollee.com: The Playwrights Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0865785/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandi_Toksvig (Wikipedia).
Pam McClure (Wake Forest, NC director): https://www.facebook.com/pam.mcclure.965 (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.