‘The Trip to Bountiful’ Worth Taking at Acacia
In Acacia Theater’s
heartwarming production, which opened last weekend, this trip is more about the
travel than the arrival. And it is simply and gracefully wrought in the
character of Carrie Watts. Forced to live with her overprotective son, Ludie,
and his spiteful, uncaring wife, Jessie Mae, the aged, hymn-singing Carrie
longs to return to her roots in the rural, idyllic town of Bountiful,
if just for a visit, the trip would provide an escape from the two-room
“prison” of an apartment that all three share in Houston. Past attempts to run away have been
futile: Carrie’s family has repeatedly stopped her efforts, mostly because her
monthly government checks are crucial to their survival.
Mary Ellen Atwood’s
stirring performance as Carrie galvanizes this production about one woman’s
determination to achieve her goal through faith and belief. Throughout the
115-minute performance (no intermission), Atwood fills the stage with a range
of emotions that evoke as well as provoke: We feel her sense of hopelessness,
hands clenched, rocking back and forth, as she reaches out to her past; we also
sense her frustration as she’s forced to come into contact with a vindictive
daughter-in-law. As the self-centered Jessie Mae, Mary Rynders finds a perfect
balance between spitefulness and forgiveness in a performance so well nuanced
that it takes someone with her experience and background to make it work.
This Trip is well worth taking, if only to
learn that “home” is where the heart resides.
The Trip to Bountiful runs through May 16 in the Todd Wehr Auditorium at Concordia University.