APU Theatre’s production of “Waiting in the Wings” was a heartwarming story about forgiveness, community and love.
This past weekend, APU theatre’s newest play, “Waiting in the Wings” by Noël Coward, told the story of a group of retired actresses in a senior home and the ups and downs of their daily lives. The narrative was touching and included many different themes such as forgiveness and the fragility of life.
As retired actresses, the mundane circumstances of life were all portrayed to be more dramatic and riveting than they normally would have been. This brought a lot of comedy to the play.
There were two branching storylines within the main plot. One focused on the reconciliation of an old feud between two of the main characters, May Davenport, played by Faith Orta, and Lotta Bainbridge, played by Jenna Catto.
These two former actresses had had a rivalry over a lover when they were younger. Davenport held resentment against Bainbrdge because he had chosen her. When Bainbridge first came to the senior house where Davenport was already living, they argued and seemed to get along just as badly as ever. However, after a while, they bonded over certain things about living in the home and, in a touching scene, made up and decided to be friends.
The other central storyline that ran throughout the whole play was the tension between the council who made the decisions about the home and the actual residence themselves. While the main point of disagreement was on a new sunroom the residence had requested, this storyline was important in helping to portray the helplessness of the elderly people’s lives. Most specifically this pointed to how many things that happen to the seniors are out of their control.
This theme also tied into another difficult topic that the play touched on — memory loss and older people unintentionally becoming a danger to themselves and others. One of the retired actresses was suffering from unspecified memory loss and ended up almost setting the whole house on fire. After that incident, there was an emotional scene where she had to be taken away by the doctor to go somewhere else. The play and actors did an excellent job of bringing to life the heartbreaking reality of having to make tough decisions for someone who no longer knows what is best for them.
Although the outside venue was different from previous years, the cast and production team was able to put on a performance that made the audience forget that there was anything out of the ordinary.
In the message from the chair of the Department of Theater Arts, which was included in the program, Jill Lincoln said that “As we chose our 2021-2022 season, we wanted to celebrate the indelible way God uses stories to lift us up and unite us in our humanity.” This play definitely embodied the stories of humanity and connection that she described.
Catherine Ko, a junior nursing student, said that she thought the cast did an amazing job, especially since they announced at the beginning of the play that an understudy had had to take over for one of the major characters.
“I was extremely impressed by the fact that the cast had practiced for 10 days to put on the show…There were some references that I did not catch or funny lines that I did not understand; however, I think I just allowed myself to enjoy the show and not worry about understanding every detail,” said Ko.
She also pointed out that all the costumes and hair were really well done and she was very impressed with the stage crew and tech because the show went so smoothly. In regards to the storyline itself, Ko said “I think the play brought up interesting perspectives of different situations dealing with aging such as memory loss, awaiting health issues, long feuds, and family ties.”
This play was the second production to be back on the live stage in APU theater department’s 2021-2022 season. While this play focused on some older themes, the feeling of getting back to one’s roots was very applicable for the time in which the theater is slowly making its way back to a live setting.