Tuesday, April 19, 2016

reviews - THE OUTGOING TIDE - Theatre Artists Studio

Judy Lebeau, Steven Fajardo, and Michael Fleck
photo: Mark Gluckman
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through April 24th.


"There have been numerous books, films, TV shows, and articles that focus on the impact of dementia and Alzheimer's disease on both the individual suffering from it as well as their family members. Bruce Graham's play The Outgoing Tide is a realistic account of the toll the disease takes on a family of three but with plenty of humor to not become completely depressing. Theatre Artists Studio's production features a gifted cast who brings an emotional resonance, and a large dose of compassion, to this illness that effects so many people while effectively depicting the difficult choices people make in dealing with it. Set in a small cottage on Chesapeake Bay, Gunner and his wife of over 50 years, Peg, are visited by their son Jack. ...Gunner knows he's starting to lose it and Peg is trying to convince him, with Jack's help, to move into an assisted living facility. But after seeing a close friend deteriorate in a similar situation Gunner has no desire to end up there. So he's come up with a solution that will forego any relocation to a nursing home and provide for his family, but he just has to tie up some loose ends first....Graham's script slowly gives us information about the fractured dynamics and emotional baggage of this family. ...The result will most likely be felt differently depending on how close one has been to dealing with a family member suffering through one of these diseases. But no matter what, this somber play's final scene packs an emotional punch. The Theatre Artists Studio cast are all giving effective, realistic, and moving performances. Michael Fleck instills the role of the opinionated but lovable Gunner with a sure-footed stubbornness..Yet it is the way he shows Gunner's courage and conviction concerning the decision he makes that will resonate in how pure it is. Judy Lebeau deeply conveys the ongoing pain, frustration, and struggle in dealing not only with Gunner's memory lapses but with her desire to do what she believes is best, ...As their son Jack, who always gets put in the middle of his parents, Steven Fajardo is equally adept at portraying a man who, while going through a difficult period himself, finds himself having to pick sides. Director Judy Rollings sets the right tone throughout, with a good balance between the almost gallows humor of a few moments and the more quiet scenes. ...While a fairly simple play, The Outgoing Tide features believable characters and a situation that many people have unfortunately encountered. It is a quiet play, with many tender moments as well as some very funny ones, and with a gifted cast and clear direction the Theatre Artists Studio presents a beautiful production that gives voice to an issue that few people wish to talk about."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...“The Outgoing Tide,” a taut family drama...Judy Rollings directs a strong cast...Michael Fleck’s charismatic performance as Gunner, a bombastic blue-collar curmudgeon who’s halfway down the slippery slope of dementia. He battles with his wife (Judy Lebeau) and son (Steven Fajardo) over plans to move him to an assisted-living facility, because he has an alternate plan that’s not hard to guess at but still packs a provocative punch....Anyone who has dealt with a loved one’s dementia may find “The Outgoing Tide” a harrowing ride, but it’s a moving depiction of the sometimes difficult search for true compassion."  - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

"....Bruce Graham's The Outgoing Tide ripples with emotion and churns with questions of ethics as it charts Gunner's final course. ...Michael Fleck...delivers a well-rounded and sensitively drawn performance as Gunner. ...Fleck masters the mood and temper of his character. The Outgoing Tide is not Gunner's story alone. In Gunner's wake is the turbulence that defines his wife's and son's condition. Jack (Steven Fajardo) is in the throes of a family crisis and dispirited as ever, no thanks to a dad that never failed to demean him. Peg (Judy Lebeau) is the ever loyal and dutiful wife...It is to director Judy Rollings' credit that the weave of these stories and the flashbacks are handled so seamlessly and convincingly. Rollings has also paced this play, however, with a keen sense of timing, waiting for the perfect storm to unleash Peg and Jack. In the beginning, Fajardo and Lebeau's performances are understated. Fajardo's Jack may seem lost and distracted, enveloped in a mist of depression. Lebeau's Peg sputters in confusion and distress. But, when the inevitable push comes to shove, the emotional rush is potent. Judy Lebeau's tearful outcry to Gunner is overwhelming; her final act of grace on behalf of the man she has loved is stirring. ...Graham's tack is distinct...intensely human, personal, and revelatory ~ and very well done in Theatre Artists Studio's hands."
 -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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