Sensitive direction by Cameron Watson and distinguished performances by Beth Grant and Melinda Page Hamilton transform playwright Tom Zieglers predictable tear-jerker into genuinely compelling theater. In a virtuoso turn with not a false note, Grant portrays Grace, an illiterate and opinionated nonagenarian whos outlived her husband and five sons, and is now living and dying alone in her backwoods Appalachian cabin. Enter Glorie (Hamilton), a hospice volunteer with an MBA from Harvard (and a wardrobe from Bloomingdales), determined to care for the crotchety old lady despite her cantankerous objections. Graces primitive living conditions and trust-in-the-Lord philosophy dismay the sophisticated Glorie, whose do-good resolve falters after she burns herself on Graces wood-burning stove and confronts a rodent under the sink. The holy-rolling Grace, on the other hand, is appalled by Glories blasphemous language and feminist thinking. Gradually, these two very different people find common ground as they uncover each others secrets and become open to mutual solace and support. Because Grants character has the best lines and the choicest opportunity for laughs, she frequently steals the limelight, but Hamiltons less flamboyant persona is no less skillfully drawn. Designer Jeff McLaughlins admirably detailed set, embellished with props by MacAndME, enfolds the drama with a rich atmospheric dimension. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through July 18. (818) 558-7000.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: June 12. Continues through July 18, 2010