Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Public Radio likes our play!

This is the first time a play I've been in has been reviewed on the radio. How very cool!

I copy the text of the review here, for fear that it may eventually disappear from the NHPR website.

Up in Enfield, the Shaker Bridge Theatre, is holding forth with Tom Dudzick’s home-for-the-holidays comedy Greetings!

It’s Christmas Eve in Pittsburgh, and young Andy Gorski has brought his fiancée home to meet the folks. The trouble is, Andy’s parents are staunch working-class Catholics, and his girlfriend is not only Jewish, but an actress! Worst of all, she’s an avowed atheist! All this plays rather badly, especially with Andy’s terminal sourpuss of a father. But after a little help from his mentally disabled brother Mickey – and some divine intervention – things turn out just fine.

Dudzick’s play has those peculiar properties that critics hate and audiences love, probably for the same reasons. The script is clichéd and shamelessly sentimental, crammed with loose ends and addicted to bad one-liners. Its characters and situations are almost entirely ripped off from All In The Family, It’s A Wonderful Life, and, yes, A Christmas Carol. Even so, Greetings!’ familiarity is part of its appeal, and Shaker Bridge has put together a sincere and relatively smooth production.

Founding Artistic Director Bill Coons does triple duty. He directed, designed the play’s comfortable, intelligent set, and plays Andy’s dyspeptic father, Phil.

Coons the actor could use more of Carroll O’Connor’s subversive zest. But he gets good support from Pat Langille as his heroically patient wife, Emily, and very fine, understated work from Lane Gibson as little brother Mickey. Mike Backman and Jocelyn Parrish are less successful as son Andy and his fiancée, Randi, mostly because both are fifteen to twenty years too old for these roles.

In spite of its flaws, however, Shaker Bridge’s Greetings! still has enough sweetness and pathos to make it an attractive family outing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rest in peace, sweet Simba

Simba died Monday. He was 14, and had been in the final stages of renal failure for many months. We kept him fairly healthy and still quite happy by giving him twice-weekly trips to the vet to get subcutaneous fluids; by doing so his life was better and longer than it would have been otherwise.

I miss him so much. He was a good dog, even sweeter than most dogs, and as a dog lover I know whereof I speak.

We're going to have a burial service for him in a couple of weeks. Here's the eulogy I'm going to try to read for him.
I speak these words to Simba, who wouldn't have understood them when he was alive, but maybe he can hear them now.

Your mama loved you, Simba, but you knew that. I have no regrets. You had a better than average doggie life while you were in my care, but it's only what you deserved, because you were the sweetest dog I've ever had the pleasure of sharing my home with. You loved me generously, lavishly, and phooey on anyone who says dogs only love you because you feed them. You celebrated with energy and noise whenever I walked through a closed door, even if I'd just been in the bathroom too long. You celebrated being outside by doing "silly dog," running like a streak of blond lightning all around the yard, running so fast your tummy dragged on the ground, zooming toward me, daring me to catch you, and then zooming off at the last minute, your eyes sparkling, breathing hard. And then finally, one last dash straight to me to sit at my feet and pant while I stroked your heaving sides. You celebrated your mastery of your kingdom by chasing turkeys, deer, and even a bear that came into sight. You terrorized cats, squirrels, chipmunks, and any bird that walked on the ground. And they all fled from you because you were fierce far beyond your 11 pounds. You never caught anything, but each time hope sprang again in your heart. You were a mighty 11-pound predator.

You hugged my knees, kissed my hand and my chin, rolled over for tummy pats, leaned against me for comfort, and saved all your sweetest faces for me. You followed me from room to room, except when it meant climbing the stairs because you long ago figured out there's a 50-50 chance I forgot something and was coming right back. You were gracious and accepting to those who wanted to pat you (after first making enough noise to let them know you weren't a pushover) but you loved me the best. You were the softest doggie in the world. You loved me to hold you in your meerkat pose and scratch your neck and your tummy and I so loved doing that. The best feeling ever was to have you fall asleep in my arms while I was petting you. But you weren't a demanding doggie, until the last year of your life when you needed more from me and I gave it gladly because you so deserved it. You trusted me so much, you let me take you to the vet where they stuck you with needles to draw out blood or run in fluids, and even though you shivered with anxiety you didn't try to run away. You let me take food away from you. You let me give you baths and brush you. You traveled hours in the car, shivering the whole time, to be with me in Connecticut for Christmas. You were my best boy, and as I write this I look at you and the tears stream down my cheeks because I know you won't be here much longer. God says there will be no tears in heaven, and that tells me that you will be there, because if you aren't there will be an empty place in my heart that only tears could express. I love you, Simba. I will miss you every time I come in the door, every time I come up the stairs or out of the bathroom, every morning when I wake up and you're not there at my feet, every time I see a squirrel or a bear in our yard. There may be other dogs in my life, but there will never be another you.