Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Trip to Bountiful by Horton Foote, Austin Playhouse, November 19 - December 18

Mary Agen Cox Trip to Bountiful Austin Playhouse

This is a memory play, an exercise in yearning -- not only for the principal character Carrie Watts, but also for playwright Horton Foote and for the audience. Where are they, those vanished earlier times, and what were they really like? Depending entirely on her son and her daughter-in-law in their apartment somewhere in the Houston of 1953, Carrie Watts longs to return to her home, a house somewhere in rural Texas at a crossroads with the melancholy, ironic name of "Bountiful."

Mary Agen Cox, Amy Kay Raymond, Brian Coughlin (image: Christopher Loveless)The place still exists, as we learn while following Carrie's great escape, but as she inevitably discovers, there's no longer much of "home" about it, other than the sagging structure of the homestead.

Christopher Loveless's images make the point powerfully. In the publicity photo Carrie and her bags sit before a light-filled rural road -- as out-of-place and as photo-shopped as a 19th century portrait taken before a painted backdrop. In performance all that light and liberty disappears, for director Toner situates these actors in a virtually featureless black box, provided with minimal props and simple furnishings. The concept is so stark and featureless that the Playhouse lists no credit for stage design.

The story is intimately tied to the simple human ity of the characters and the authenticity of the voices given to them by the cast. The accents, rhythms and the perceptive costuming by Buffy Manners situate them in that specific moment in urbanizing Texas as director Toner and the cast deliver Foote's simple, powerful parable.

Read more and view additional images at . . .

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