“Either Or” written by Dayle Ann Hunt, directed by Rachel Flynn; stage managed by Laura Hirschberg; starring Courtney Bess, Mimi Bessette, Kathleen Clancy, Ken Perlstein, and Joseph Rose.
The audience sees a not-so-organized apartment, and Deni sleeps on the floor on a mattress. The apartment looks like a transient person occupies it. It’s Deni’s 40th birthday! Deni’s mother calls her and the telephone rings, and she searches through her items to find her cellular telephone. Mother and daughter exchange unenthusiastic pleasantries.
Deni’s pregnant sister, Lorraine, visits her at her apartment; and the sisters discuss the impending birthday dinner at their parents’ home. The audience witnesses how these two sisters talk about their lives in a not too excited manner. Deni shows up at her parents’ home for dinner, and her mother, Mrs. Rutland, gets her to help with the finishing touches before the special dinner is served.
Herbert “Pop” Rutland takes his beer container with him close to the dinner table, and the audience sees him in a groggy disposition with a foul mouth. Besides Pop, Lorraine, Deni, and Mrs. Rutland sit at the table; and Raymond joins the family. Edie, Mrs. Rutland, tries her best to keep the peace at the table; but Pop tells the world how he feels about his two unmarried daughters. Deni tries to hold her own at the table with her father’s insults, and Lorraine defends her position in the family, too.
Raymond sits in the middle of a family feud, and Mrs. Rutland attempts to down play her family dynamics. Raymond reflects on his own family drama without uttering a word! Pop lets his daughters, Deni and Lorraine, know how he really feels about them. The audience hears when he refers to his daughters as two bad eggs. Mrs. Rutland brings a box with articles from her other daughter to show them to Raymond, and she brags about her daughter’s marriage and her professional success.
Between Deni and Lorraine, the truth about their sister’s life affects Pop Rutland in a negative way, and he passes out from the news about his daughter’s unconventional marriage. Lorraine on the other hand begins to feel labor pain, and two ambulances take the father and the daughter to the same hospital. Deni and Raymond share their life stories with each other, and they commiserate with each other on family matters.
Raymond’s mother dies, and he wants a new start. He volunteers to go with Deni on her trip to California. Pop Rutland’s behavior towards his daughter sends her on a roller coaster of emotional turmoil, and the audience hopes for a new start for a 40-year old. Deni gets a new start with Raymond by her side. They need each other!
The writer gets her message across to the audience, and it is a very spirited one that deserves to be told in the society. Bad behavior from some parents has contributed to the emotional damaged in the
development of their children. The Rutland’s’ daughters represent the fallout from the mental abuse children have received from one or both parents while they were growing up in the household. I recommend this show to theatre goers because it resonates the truth about some of the tribulations in society.
The reviewer’s point of view: It is very essential for the mental health professionals to recognize this epidemic. Society needs more plays like this one to remind the public that negative words serve as a dagger in the hearts and souls of children.