reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Upon taking one’s seat for IRT’s Morning After Grace, one can relax and peruse Bill Clarke’s magnificent Florida condo set design – so detailed and realistic, it seems as if we will be voyeurs into the life of whatever lucky man or woman has settled here. However, once the lights dim to black and come up again to reveal two disheveled beings on the couch, reality quickly turns to farce – the set is there only to ground the action, not to portray anything more than decor.

Playwright Carey Crim’s tale of three “boomers” begins with the unlikely premise that these two characters, he is 71 and she is in her mid-60’s, are leftovers from their previous night’s romp together, having met at a funeral – a funny bit of imagination which eventually turns to sadness as the action slowly forms.

Henry Woronicz, Laura T. Fisher, and Joseph Primes in a scene from IRT’s production of “Morning After Grace”.

Everything is in disarray at the onset of this play, the first of a sequence of scrambles which, while very funny at times, lead us on a journey often more sit-comic than theatrical. Once the lady looks in the gent’s closet and finds lady’s clothes, she is left thinking several possibilities are at hand. “Are you a transvestite?” she asks – figuring that that is the only way she has not just spent the night cavorting with a married man. As each situation is unscrambled, another quickly arises – it is that type of farce: misunderstandings prevail; the jokes are more prevalent than the plotline.

This results in a clever story that is not much more than a meandering set of funny circumstances – although we do eventually reach a bit of fixable pathos at the end. None the less, plenty of surprising laughs are there to be enjoyed – mostly from adroit observations of being old or becoming older.

Henry Woronicz, Laura T. Fisher, and Joseph Primes in a scene from IRT’s production of “Morning After Grace”.

Crim’s trio of characters – Angus, who is the condo’s resident; his visitor, Abigail; and his neighbor, Ollie – are all well offered with interesting portrayals by Henry Woronicz, Laura T. Fisher and Joseph Primes, respectively. Woronicz is truly masterful in his handling of a man who is both widowed and betrayed (yes, the funeral was for his wife, Grace). He brings more than a handful of potent emotions to his rendering of Angus, making us laugh and cry. Ms. Fisher is equally skilled as an astute lady dropped into this uniquely complicated situation – Abigail has her own set of varied dilemmas to work out. Primes plays the neighbor, Ollie, who happens to be an ex-major league player beset by what amounts to a very modern-day obstacle. He uses a light touch of both humor and poignancy to convey Ollie’s troubles and his method of dealing with them.

Director Janet Allen makes the most of the script’s variety of levels, forming the small cast into a tight ensemble. She also assembles a talented set of stagecrafters to help create her vision – the aforementioned set designer Mr. Clarke, plus Betsy Cooprider-Bernstein, whose remarkable lighting design is employed to show the passage of time with realistic beauty, and Guy Clarke, whose costumes are squarely on-the-money for these elder Floridians.

Bottomline: It’s uncommon that any play intently explores those of us in our advanced years. There is plenty of comedy to mine in this arena and Ms. Crim does a good job with her amusing inspection of being older. IRT’s product is very entertaining, though some rather adult conversations and situations should keep the audience restricted to anyone 18 or over.

Morning After Grace continues on the IRT OneAmerica Mainstage through February 9. Tickets and information about the show can be found by visiting http://www.irtlive.com or by calling (317) 635-5252.

  • – photos by Zach Rosing
  • – artwork by Kyle Ragsdale