Arts & Culture

Trinity performance probes meaning of family loss

Contributing Writer
Monday, March 12, 2012


Moving on from loss can be difficult for anyone. Admitting the loss can be even more trying. “The Mourners’ Bench” by George Brant, running at Trinity Repertory Company through May 24, illustrates this painful facet of the human experience through three stories linked to one another by a house that represents their loss.

The first two stories revolve around the death of Evelyn, the mother of Melissa (Angela Brazil) and Bobby (Mauro Hantman) and the younger sister of Wilma (Janice Duclos) and Caroline (Phyllis Kay). The play begins as Bobby invites his sister Melissa to the house he recently purchased, after they have not seen each other for five years. Melissa is stunned to find that the house he bought was the one they lived in as children, perfectly restored to how it used to look. During a conversation, the trauma they share from a terrible loss they experienced in childhood is revealed. Their conversation suggests themes of being caught in the past, denial and embracing the wounds of losing loved ones.

The second act takes place in the past, not long after the death of Evelyn, as Wilma and Caroline discuss the future of the two remaining children and the sale of the house. While on the surface they seem to argue over selling the house and how to raise the children, their talk is really about the dilemma of finding a balance between remembering their sister and moving on.

The last act is about the couple who moves into the house after the sisters sell it. Joe (Timothy Crowe), who bought the house for his sick wife Sarah (Anne Scurria), is sterile, and the two were never able to conceive despite Sarah’s longing to have a child. Their story is about the loss felt for something that never happened — Joe and Sarah suffer emptiness because they are unable to have children and cannot give each other what they want.

The actors expressed their fluctuating emotions without overplaying them. Hantman, in particular, was able to convey both childish innocence and the complicated emotions of an adult.

Friday night’s show was well attended, filling the small theater downtown. Many of the guests shed tears as they exited.

Andrew Park ’14, who attended the show, called it “very moving and a great depiction of darkness and hope at the same time.”