It’s the “beginning of the end”. Bernice (Karen Robinson) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and there’s no easy way to break the news – even flying around the kitchen in a cape cannot soften the blow. Just when her three children begin to find ways of dealing with this heartbreak, Bernice drops yet another bomb – she tells them she wishes to die gracefully. Their world goes up in flames and Bernice decides she has no other option, but to tell one of her infamous “necessary lies”. And Iris (Alexis Gordon) is the only one in on the secret…
Written by award-winning playwright Beth Graham, the World Premiere of The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, opened last night as a co-production of Factory Theatre and Obsidian Theatre. Graham’s writing is intelligent in tackling this controversial issue in a terrifyingly truthful manner. We know that hamburger meat and deodorant are not the be all and end all of this disease, but I couldn’t help but feel a strange desire to wash my armpits by the end of the show.
Directed by Philip Akin and supported by a talented cast, this production is sure to make your heart hurt. The show starts off slow, but the Trimble family dynamic is honest and has you asking yourself a multitude of questions, right from the start. From Iris and Sara (Lucinda Davis) bickering uncontrollably, to Peter (Peyson Rock) slinking away awkwardly to sit in front of the television, these characters slowly pull you into their world and steal your attention. The only thing distracting about this show is the sniffles you will hear from the audience members.
The set design by Camellia Koo works wonders at juxtaposing the Trimbles’ world. An immaculate kitchen, with the most organized shelves you can possibly imagine, encompasses a world of doubt and instability. The set is an exact representation of who Bernice no longer is, and this is something she cannot bear to deal with.
The lighting and sound designs by Andrew Smith and Richard Lee are necessarily torturous. White washes and ticking clocks accentuate the longevity of the torment and you are left in the kitchen, with Iris, waiting. Wondering. As she occupies her hands with frivolous things, her mind goes crazy. And so does yours.
The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, puts your world into perspective. It makes you cry. It makes you think. It makes you want to go home and hug your family. A heart-breaking, beautiful, must-see.
The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble opened on November 7th, 2013, and is running until December 1st, 2013 at Factory Theatre. Tickets range from $23.00-$40.00 (rush tickets available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and can be purchased by phone, at 416-504-9971, or online, at www.factorytheatre.ca.