Review: 'The Mayor' (ATC & Metamorphosis); an unforgettable experience! By Lisa Panzer
Paulette (Julie Berndt) is giving her caregiver Kate (Tara Haight) a hard time insisting that there is no food in the refrigerator, when Kate insists it is in fact stocked. Paulette can be quite imposing when provoked, having formerly served as the Mayor of her small college town in Vermont. Kate phones Paulette’s daughter Sabine (Susan Jane McDonald) to let her know that she has had it and quits leaving Sabine in a tough spot. Sabine is a busy restaurateur and does not have the time or wherewithal to handle her mother’s increasing needs. Her son, Peter (Chris Robertson), a busy academic professor, is very supportive but also unable to give enough help. After a cognitive evaluation with specialist Dr. Goodson (Marianne Goodell), it is clear that professional care is necessary. Not yet willing to put Paulette in a specialized care facility they start with home nurse visits.
As 'The Mayor' drifts deeper into dementia, relationships are tested, and reality is challenged especially when Paulette reveals that her assigned home nurse has committed an abominable act upon her person during a wellness visit. But is her recollection correct or… something else entirely? It is extremely important to know what actually happened as the consequences could be catastrophic. The parallax question of whom and what to believe unearths truths thought to be long buried, pushing pain from the past into a future where it may heal.
That this production is so powerful, and palpably evincing even over the limited medium of Zoom, is a testament to the cast’s paramount acting abilities, to playwright and director David Bellatoni’s intimate knowledge of the subject, riveting dialogue and elegant technical simplicity of using neutral Zoom backgrounds. The actors (Susan Jane McDonald, Tara Haight, Julie Berndt, Marianne Goodell, Chris Robertson and Anthony DePalma as Officer Bellmore, narrated by Kathleen Kellaigh) absolutely needed no technical embellishments to hold sway within the Zoom stage as this spellbinding twister of a story unfurled its surprises. Bellatoni’s ‘The Mayor’ is not just touchingly plausible it reaches out and grabs, probing a topic many are familiar with through direct or indirect experience and placing it into a riveting drama. Cleverly taking the audience along the various stages of Paulette’s disorder (Lewy Body Dementia) and the emotional detritus that can often accompany the condition, it is also an eye opening educational experience. In the case of ‘The Mayor’, the ricocheting effects that ripple out over friends, family and others create for a real roller coaster of a journey making Bellatoni’s premiere utterly unforgettable!
Looking forward to possibly seeing ‘The Mayor’ on stage or screen in the future…
Running Time: 70 minutes.
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