Written and Directed by Bernadette Armstrong
Simple Lives is a play about us.
Set in the home town of the calm, quiet center of the storm, Rosalie. Her daughter Kathleen comes home for a visit with some interesting news. Rosalie’s much older sister Anna has been living with her since her husband passed away, unable to look after herself and dealing with the beginnings of dementia, losing herself a little every day. Their neighbor, a local radio host, is also a lost soul, his wife terminally ill in a nearby hospital. Together they find ways to comfort each other, to carry on despite the difficulties they face each day.
There are no tricks in “Simple Lives,” no layers of yearning, no intricate plots and multi-faceted characters with twisted agendas, so I suppose if your life is like that then maybe it isn’t about you after all.
This is a play that talks about the things we all have to deal with in our lives – getting older, getting sicker, the unexpected and the unprepared for, and love, forgiveness, family and how well we can isolate ourselves when what we really long for is company and understanding.
That’s the ‘us’ part.
Bernadette Armstrong has created an ‘ode’ to what makes us so special as a species, our capacity to grow even when we feel least likely to. Using this ‘family’, mother Rosalie, Aunty Anna, Kathleen the daughter and their neighbor Mr Knight struggling with a dying wife and the prospect of a life without her, Ms Armstrong reminds us that what can seem small, boring and common place about our existence can also be the stuff of legend. How a simple extended hand in times of need, or shelter when we have nowhere left to turn, or a few minutes sitting beside each other, watching the stars in the sky, can quietly and profoundly change everything.
The characters are richly drawn and lovingly familiar, particularly Aunty Anna, played with fire and delight by the wonderful Ann Cooper. But truly everyone shines in this production, it is the epitome of an ensemble piece. A mirror to our own lives which burst with the characters that we revolve around, and reminding us all that to share and to belong is the strongest of human needs.
“Simple Lives” is a drama, with many comedic and poetic moments and heartfelt relationships. It’s a pleasure to have a cast so full of beauty, wisdom and the female perspective. I’m certain that the sole man amongst them, the very lucky Dan Metcalfe, must feel pretty happy every night to be surrounded by such talent, although he more than keeps up I can tell you!
This is a gentle play, with thoughtful and compassionate performances on a particularly well-constructed and imaginative set, allowing us to step into this world and every location in it without the stress of moving furniture and set pieces, something that helped the flow of the piece considerably.
I highly recommend “Simple Lives” at the Secret Rose Theatre. it’s a charming and hopeful play, when our lives can feel so dark sometimes, it’s important to remember who we love and why.
The Cast includes: Anne Cooper, Goreti Da Silva, Elaine Mello, Christine Uhebe, Dan Metcalfe, and Penelope Korff.
Production Crew: Deidre Dooley, Rosemary Thomas, Taylor Anderson, Kenji Kang, Kevin Vasquez, David Svengalis
Secret Rose Theatre
11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
September 23 – October 8
Friday and Saturday at 8PM