This past Thursday I entered the home of Grace Stiles to see a beautifully intimate production of Grace and Glorie, currently playing at the 2nd Space Theater in Fresno, CA. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. 1) The 2nd Space Theater is the perfect space for this kind of show (with a wonderfully detailed set by David Pierce) where you are in a person’s home the whole show. 2) There is something powerful to be witnessed when you have just 2 actresses on stage, and they keep you enthralled with the script during the entire duration of the piece. This 2 person cast of Grace and Glorie does just that.
Grace and Glorie follows an elderly Grace Stiles (played by Good Company Players veteran Mary Piona; one of the most natural actresses I have ever seen) who is practically bed ridden with her last stages of cancer. We also meet hospice volunteer Gloria Whitmore (played by a strong and emtoinally versatile Laurie Pessano). Yes, her name really is Gloria, not Glorie. However, one of the ongoing bits is how Grace continually calls Gloria, Glorie. As the show continues, Grace and Gloria cotninually share past stories including deaths of their children, how to properly boil an egg country-style, and how to conquer the evil mice under the sink. The play wraps up with a beautiful speech from Grace directed towards a family member she’s never met, displaying the very warmth and tenderness this entire piece is oozing with.
What I appreciated the most about this show is director Robert Sanchez’s staging of the 2 actresses, and how he utlilizes the house set to consistently stir interest in the scenes. At one point we find Gloria trying to make up an entire breakfast while Grace is instructing her while knitting a sweater in her bed. The pinnacle quote comes from Grace saying, “Maybe it would be better if you (Gloria) were in the bed and I (Grace) was making the breakfast.” This quote carries a great theme throughout the rest of the show. The interchangeable teaching moments each woman provides for the other is what is most appreciated about this glowing relationship. This is brought to fruition in a scene (shown below) where they actually switch places and Gloria rests in Grace’s bed.
Grace and Glorie is a show that will cause you to laugh quite hard, and cry quite passionately. It’s amazing to see a piece that deals with a woman who is literally on her deathbed, with no one to live for, can do for a woman who seemingly has it all, and vice versa. This piece of theatre truly makes you sit back and contemplate the impact you are making on those close to you; and the cast and crew of this production solidly provide that experience for the audience. Grace and Glorie plays thru June 17th, so go get your tickets and go see the show!