Son of Semele presents “Marion Bridge” now playing through September 24th at the Son of Semele Theatre, 3301 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004
“Marion Bridge” is a play about three sisters, all leading very separate lives, who come together again as their mother is dying and find that what connects them most deeply is not their less than perfect parent, but each other.
Three more different people you could not expect to meet. A nun, a TV obsessed sexually ambiguous tomboy and an alcoholic failed actress. And yet they are a family, as real and as believable as any written. I do wonder how the writer Daniel Maclvor conjured them, but however he did, I am grateful as these disparate, oddly sympathetic and infinitely relatable characters stole my heart…as they found theirs again.
The title “Marion Bridge” refers to a place not far from where they grew up. The girls’ mother always referred held it up to be a place of pure perfection, a “one day we will go there and be happy” kind of place…aspirational, idyllic. A place they only went to once as children and were very disappointed to find it was just the same as any other place, at least for them.
As their mother slowly and painlessly slips away in a room somewhere upstairs, cared for by them in turn, she is unable to speak anymore, instead, she makes requests of them in coded post-it notes. The notes become a kind of puzzle of their lives together, a disjointed road map of their relationship. Moments caught in brightly colored pieces of paper with hard to translate wiggles and letters with almost indecipherable connections to what mother wants – a comical, visceral imprint of their mother in vivid lime green squares.
The eldest sister, Agnes, is the one who fled the furthest, living as an actress in New York, unsuccessful of course and damaged by a terrible loss early in her life. A loss she blames her mother for and seeks to escape in her booze. The middle sister, Theresa, has found God and lives as a nun on a farm and the third, Louise, lives at home with her mother, unable to find a place in the world that satisfies most people understanding of ‘a life.’ So here they all are, awkwardly thrown together for a reason anyone would dread and yet hopeful somehow and full of love for each other and a yearning to make sense out of their wildly different lives.
I won’t tell you all the ins and outs, I would definitely spoil it for you if I did. Suffice it to say that I was touched and surprised by these women and the journey they took together in this funny and compelling play. Although death plays a large part in the story it’s not really about that at all. “Marion Bridge,” named after a place that meant much more to their mother than any of them could understand, is about finding your own truth in this world and holding on to it hard despite what anyone else might think of it.
I have two sisters, we are all very different and have trod very different paths in life and yet we are all fiercely connected in ways that only sisters can be. We have lived through loss and we are stronger for it. When parents die, although the loss is profound, it’s also a kind of release. Not a child anymore, there is no more reason to be anyone but yourself and this is where these three women find themselves. Facing a life where no more excuses are present to keep them from their destinies, however painful and scary and exciting they may seem.
I loved this play. The director Don Boughton has deftly created a space where these wonderful actors can play to the simplicity of the ideas and the complexity of the characters and the freedom with which they find themselves and each other. Each actor was brilliant, all bringing their own quirky truth to the role, not pushing for familiarity with each other, but really showing us how to be sisters in all of its complications, rivalry and fierce acceptance and love.
This is a play about so much more than a death. It’s about getting over the fear, the heartbreak and the judgement we put on ourselves and finding our own version of a life, however strange and potentially awkward that might be for those around us. We only get one chance to be authentically ‘us’ after all so we might as well get on with it!
I highly recommend “Marion Bridge” at Son Of Semele. It’s rare to find a play where women are celebrated like this, all flaws and fears and beautiful manias. You will see a little of yourselves. I guarantee it! This is a very short run so don’t dawdle, get your tickets right away I have a feeling that every night might be sold out!
Agnes MacKeigan – Amy DeBourget
Theresa MacKeigan – Carolyn Reese Crotty
Louise MacKeigan – Sarah Boughton
Director – Don Boughton
Lighting Designer – Brandon Baruch
Sound Engineer – James Ferrero
Set Design – Jacquelyn Gutierrez
Stage Manager – Hannah Beehler