Holding On - Letting Go

Bryan Harnetiaux's new play focuses on family dynamics as the 51-year-old husband, Bobby (Barry Wiggins), in a childless marriage, enters a hospice for terminal liver cancer. It recalls a couple of Pulitzer Prize-winning, end-of-life plays — Michael Cristofer's The Shadow Box and Margaret Edson's Wit. Bobby's wife, Lee (Iona Morris), is a highly motivated sports coach whose brash exterior, cellphone addiction and oh-so-busy schedule serve to mask the inner terror of a woman who lives on hope and doesn't quite know how to cope with her husband's irrefutable terminal diagnosis. There's little poetry here in facing the dark; rather, scenes between husband and wife and husband's crusty mother (Amentha Dymally), hospice worker (Jill Remez) and social worker (Lamar Hughes) in performance (under James Reynold's tender direction) and in the writing have a blend of TV-drama realism and the subtle awkwardness of characters who don't quite know what to say. Soon, they're all dancing slowly around death's black hole. Bobby eventually must choose between his growing pain and the mental blurring effects of morphine. This is, in many ways, a drama about capitulation, made both chastening and harrowing by its attention to clinical and psychological details. Fremont Center Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (no perfs May 11-13); through May 27. (866) 811-4111, fremontcentretheatre.com.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: April 14. Continues through May 27, 2012

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Fremont Centre Theatre

1000 Fremont Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030

626-441-5977

www.fremontcentretheatre.com