It makes sense that Moonglow would open Mother's Day weekend at the Toledo Rep—the author, Kim Carney, wrote it about her mother. Set in an Alzheimer's care facility, the play deals with the tragedy and comedy of everyday existence. Carney once said that what really takes the stage is the love story between Maxine, the mother who has been moved into the facility, and Joe, a man who also lives there. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, the play celebrates what director Paul Causman calls, "both the frailty of our human condition and the power of our humanity."
Carney is a graduate of Wayne State University and a member of the Dramatists Guild. Her plays have been performed in Los Angeles, New Jersey, and the Purple Rose Theatre (close to her hometown of Beverly Hills, MI). Moonglow received the Best New Play Award and was optioned for Broadway before The Rep was given permission to stage it. There are five members of the cast including Madge Levinson as Maxine, who fought for the play to be included in this season. "I have never seen the show" she said, "but I read the script and I fell in love with it!"
To melt the heart
"It's what I call Reader's Theatre and acting in three dimensions," Causman explains. The characters Maxine and Joe actually read off the script, engaging the audience from places closer to them while their younger selves or the illusion of how they see themselves is related to the audience from above, onstage. “The characters act out the story representationally rather than telling the story as a representation. The minds of Maxine and Joe are actually up above them, acting in three dimensions."
The story, with its fixation on mental illness, can be dark, but Causman insists the script is also quite funny. "People just living their lives day to day are funny," he said. "There definitely are funny moments and funny aspects to each of the characters. It also has a ring of truth. It's clear that the author had a strong connection with the story."
Souvenir of bliss
Alzheimer's has touched the lives of the cast members as well. "We'll begin to talk about what is happening [in the story] and someone will say, 'You know, my grandmother' or, 'my mother/father went through that' and you begin to find out that this cast is no different-—it has touched a lot of their lives as well," said Causman. That familiarity will make their performances more believable when Moonglow hits the stage.
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre has paired with the Alzheimer's Association for the production of Moonglow, being used as an educational tool for caregivers and nurses of people with Alzheimer's. "This play helps us understand a little bit more about our lives and each different stage in our lives," Causman said. "You come away gaining something from the play."
Moonglow premieres Thursday, May 8.
Runs through Sunday, May 11.
Shows: 8pm Thursday-Saturday; 2:30pm Sunday.
$20, $18 seniors, $10 students, $5 children.
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 10th St.