Monday, March 16, 2015



The twilight years are not the easiest time of life for many. Parts we've always counted on, like legs and eyes and ears, don't always work the way we want them to function.  Memories dating back decades or mere minutes become problematic.  We enter a room with a specific motive or goal in mind and can't remember it worth a fig.  For Ethel and Norman Thayer, their summer home in New England has been a refuge and source of comfort for almost five decades.  They've raised their daughter Chelsea there and delighted in watching the seasons evolve.

Now the Thayers are changing quicker than the summer skies.  In Ernest Thompson's poignantly simple and bittersweet love story "On Golden Pond," we find ourselves enscounced in lawn chairs at that summer house, listening to the loons on the lake, and enjoying the tart-tinged squabbles that pop up between the pair thanks to Darien Arts Center Stage weekends until Sunday, March 22.

The years are creeping up on Norman.  He will soon celebrate his eighth year while Ethel is a spry seventy.  The sharp minded professor who taught English at the University of Pennsylvania is now experiencing bouts of forgetfulness.  How many more years will he be able to make this annual summer pilgrimage? Affectionately called an old poop by Ethel, a sincerely caring Nancy Sinacori, Will Jeffries' Norman is sure this will be his last summer on the lake.  Their wonderful banter and bickering is delightful to be witness to as they repeat the traditions that have made the lake so significant in their married lives. David Eger's comfortable cottage set adds to the ambiance as does the happy chirping of birds and calls of the loons.

Daughter Chelsea, a vibrant Kitty Robertson,  sweeps into the cottage with her dentist fiance Bill, a straight arrow Eric Dino, in tow, as well as his teenage son Billy, a chipper kid who is ready for new adventures.  Chelsea and Bill have one foot on the departure gate to Europe and want the older folks to babysit Billy for the duration.  The rocky relationship between Norman and his uninvited house guest mellow in a fishing boat on Golden Pond as well as through books that Norman brings to Billy's interest and attention.

In a strange way, Norman and Billy pave the way for years of conflict to be resolved between father and daughter, as they forgive and forget and make amends for past difficulties and disappointments. Will Jeffries leads this talented cast as the fixed in his ways Norman who often favors fish over humans. Patrick Kiley directs this gentle tale with a tender hand. An extra dose of down home Maine humor is provided by David Jackins as Charlie, long time admirer of Chelsea and loyal post office delivery man. Holy Mackinoli!

For tickets ($20), call the Darien Arts Center Stage, 2 Renshaw Road, Darien (exit 11 off I-95, behind the Darien Town Hall) at  203-655-5414 or online at Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Let this lovely waltz of a play lure you in and catch your heartstrings as Norman and Ethel continue the dance steps they have perfected over the decades, even if they occasionally miss a beat or two.

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