‘On Golden Pond’ " a review | PostIndependent.com

‘On Golden Pond’ " a review

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CARBONDALE ” Not typically billed as a comedy, the humor in Thunder River Theatre Company’s production of “On Golden Pond” carries the tender story of an elderly couple facing “the edge of middle age” while visiting their summertime retreat.

TRTC opened the Ernest Thompson play on Dec. 6-7 to full houses. Show dates continue today and Saturday. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.

TRTC’s Richard Lyon and local actor Wendy Perkins are wonderful in the lead roles of Norman and Ethel Thayer, who have spent 48 summers together at their cottage on Golden Pond in Maine.

As cantankerous as Norman is, we laugh with the couple, feel happy as Norman develops a deep connection with his daughter’s teenage stepson, and are touched by Ethel’s affection.

Lyon and Perkins make you want more of their sarcasm and funny repartees that are delivered in perfect timing.

“Are we gonna spend the rest of the afternoon quibbling?” she asks in one scene.

“We can if you’d like,” he retorts.

I agree with acclaimed playwright Tennessee Williams who stated: “Let them stay the winter.”

Lyon stands out in his portrayal of a grumpy old man who is ever witty with the tongue, open about his inclination to die, sarcastic, critical, and prejudiced, yet honest about his undying love for Ethel.

Even as his character talks about suicide (he tells his wife to put him on the mantle and push him into the fire when it’s time), Lyon succeeds at making the audience laugh.

On the flip side, Perkins is equal to the task in creating a quick-witted but nostalgic, loving wife to Norman, whom she frequently calls her “old poop” with just the right tone.

With Perkins, you never doubt that Ethel is Norman’s rock. She can be playful, ruffling a feather-duster in his face, and protective, cradling his head when he first acknowledges his memory loss.

You feel hopeful that Norman will be OK with Ethel. And like the loons that also return seasonally to the lake, we know that they will take care of each other.

Sharon Brady is believable as daughter Chelsea, who still calls Ethel “Mommy” but struggles to gain her father’s acceptance.

The trusting friendship that develops between Norman and Chelsea’s stepson, Billy, (played by Waldorf student-actor Nick Hunsaker) is fun to watch but also bittersweet since Chelsea and Norman never shared such a bond.

Rounding out the cast is Gary Morabito as the goofy and good-natured postman and Tom Reynolds as Chelsea’s timid boyfriend, Bill.

All in all, TRTC’s production of “On Golden Pond” is funny and touching as we watch the elderly couple come to terms with growing old and dying, becoming “more aware of the sunrises and sunsets,” as Ethel says.

We’re comforted by the notion that they’ll make it through another winter, return next summer to see the loons on Golden Pond, and love each other deeply to the very end.

If we could all be so lucky.

Tickets to “On Golden Pond” are available at http://www.thunderrivertheatre.com. For more information, call TRTC at 963-8200.

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