A Winnebago has pulled up on the stage of the Hudson Village Theatre. On board are two seventy-ish women who have embarked on the adventure of their lives. Decades of friendship persuaded them that they had enough in common to attempt this trip. But a few weeks into it, their differences begin surfacing and threatening to derail their plans. When a smooth talkin’ young hitchhiker joins the mix, things heat up even more.

I attended a rehearsal of the upcoming Peggy and Grace last weekend. The play is written by Bonnie Laing, and beautifully directed by Heather Markgraf-Lowe. Watching a play come together in its final stages is exciting, and very different from watching the (hopefully) seamless product on opening night. The individual components of a production- the dialogue, the movement, light and music are still separate entities, and you realize that the blending of these on stage is an incredibly intricate process. The lines are learned, but still need fine-tuning. Where exactly does a prop get placed so it is where it needs to be in the course of the action? How long precisely does each costume change take, and how loud should a sound effect be (in this case, a flushing toilet) so you can still hear the actors’ voices above the effect?

Bronwen Mantel and Joanna Noyes, the actors playing Peggy and Grace are real-life friends of long standing, and are excited about finally doing a play together. The characters they play, also old friends, are opposites. In the words of the play, Grace wants to “paint nature” while Peggy wants to “paint the town”. When asked if they themselves would consider running off in a Winnebago at seventy, Joanna Noyes replied; “When old age is staring you in the face, you should run like hell!”.

Adrien Benn, the clever and charismatic hitchhiker, enjoys taking care of the ladies. He is John Abbott trained, multi-talented, and could probably take care of just about anything.

The Winnebago, a creation of designers Fany Crochetiere and Anna Delfino is a wonder and a character in itself. The costumes, which play an important role in highlighting the contrasting personalities of Peggy and Grace, are the work of Karen Pearce. Lighting is by Bruce Lambie, and the technical side is in the able hands of Joel Fox, Coordinating all of the above on a day to day basis is stage manager Merissa Tordjman, a job requiring immense organizational skills, patience for tiny details, and nerves of steel.

Peggy and Grace is a thoughtful play, a comedic drama (like life) that uses the alluring metaphor of a road trip to speak to us about the nature of friendship, our fear of ageing, and the secrets we keep.
It is running at the Hudson Village Theatre until August 25.
Tel: 450-458-5361 or www.villagetheatre.ca

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