Tuesday November 21st 2017

“The My Way Residential” reviewed by Carol Moore

Recommended *** I really enjoyed the Irish Theatre Chicago production of “The My Way Residential”.  Putting a parent into a residential (a nursing home) is never easy.  With that issue as the central premise for the play, it could have been a depressing evening.  Instead, we saw an irresistibly sweet story, with an unexpected happy ending.  3 ½ Spotlights

Catherine (Carolyn Kruse), carrying a couple of shopping bags, bursts into a rather drab room containing a nightstand, a single bed, a chest of drawers, an armchair and a tiny table presumably facing a telly (TV).  She quickly pulls out a lap robe, which she drapes over the chair.  Next, going over to the chest, she puts some things in a drawer, then arranges a bottle of perfume and some small picture frames on top.  She puts a letter-sized box on the lower shelf of the nightstand.  Finally, she throws a coverlet over the bed.

Soon the door opens and Sister Chang (Christine Bunuan), the administrator of the residential, drags her mother, Willa (Belinda Bremner), into the room.  Willa is angry, belligerent and confrontational as Catherine lists all the reasons she can’t stay in her own place.  Before she leaves, she urges her mother to sign over her power of attorney.

In reality, Catherine is selfish, self-absorbed and bored with her husband, Jack (Jeff Christian).  Her children are all grown, she doesn’t want to deal with her mother, and she just started an affair with a much younger man.

Willa was born in Galway, but has lived in London most of her adult life.  She worked hard to send Catherine to a posh boarding school so she could ‘better’ herself.  She’s proud that she has “a bit put by” and doesn’t want Catherine taking it away from her.    She’s irascible, cantankerous, angry, and disbelieving as Sister Chang uses forces to make her go to bed.

Sister Chang rules the residential with an iron hand.  Sweet and pleasant to visiting relatives, she’s downright mean to the residents.  She straps Willa into a wheelchair to make her go to the lounge.  She helps herself to Willa’s belongings, even confiscating things like her favorite cookies or the TV antenna, to punish her.

At first, Willa sees Byron (Terry Bell) as another enemy when he helps Chang put her in a wheelchair.  Byron is a kind man, unlike Chang, but he has to obey her because he has a secret.  He came from South Africa on a student trip, and just stayed.  Willa and Byron find common ground which leads the story in a surprisingly unexpected direction.

Irish Theatre’s production of “The My Way Residential” runs through June 25th at the Den Theatre (Upstairs Main Stage), 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

Running time is right around 75 minutes, no intermission.

Performances are :

Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm

Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Tickets range from $26-$30. Valet parking is finally available at the Den! FYI www.irishtheatreinchicago.org.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The My Way Residential”

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