Friday, February 16, 2018

Hayley Mills puts on a Party Face

     When I received the press invitation to Party Face, I didn’t even bother to read what the play was about.  I saw the name Hayley Mills and knew I wanted to be there.  I grew up loving her movies, from “Pollyanna” to “The Trouble with Angels.”  I had never seen her onstage and actually don’t think I’ve seen her anywhere in half a century.

     Unfortunately, seeing Mills was the best part of Isobel Mahon’s sit-com of a show at City Center Stage 2.  Although well played by the cast, the characters are stereotypical, starting with Mills as Carmel, the pert, judgmental mother we’ve all seen too many times.  Even her compliments have a ring of criticism, such as when she arrives at her daughter’s apartment in a Dublin suburb and comments on the vase of stargazer lilies.  

     “In my day, you never saw a lily outside of a funeral parlor,” she says, providing the first of the insults she’ll aim toward her downtrodden daughter Mollie (Gina Costigan), just returned from three weeks in a psychiatric hospital after having a nervous breakdown while gazing at cereal boxes in the supermarket.  Mollie has invited her mother to see her newly finished kitchen extension.

     “Is it a little clinical,” Carmel asks, before sweetly adding, “Of course, it’s all the rage now.”

     Carmel has taken it upon herself to turn the occasion into a party, having invited Mollie’s narcissistic neighbor, Chloe (Allison Jean White), much to Mollie’s distress.  Joining what is now becoming a gathering are Mollie’s supportive sister, Maeve (Brenda Meaney), and Bernie (Klea Blackhurst), an obsessive-compulsive woman Mollie met at the hospital.  

     As you would expect, anger builds on all sides, including the melodramatic mention of a long-dead baby, but this being a light — really light — comedy, all will be resolved in the end.

     Director Amanda Bearse keeps the plot from getting too out-of-hand, but she could have made note of Mills’ Irish accent, which disappeared shortly after she walked through her daughter’s door.    This was fine with me because I could hear in this now 71-year-old woman traces of the little girl whose voice and English accent I loved. 

     I’ll keep my memories of that Hayley and hope that if the grown-up one returns to New York to do another show, she can find a better one. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Literary Guide for Lent

Sarah Arthur’s Between Midnight and Dawn is the last part of a series that includes At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time, and Light Upon Light: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Each collection stands alone, with its own unique curation of voices and themes. The reader is welcomed into what you might think of as a quiet library and finds company in the life-giving words of another – poetry and prose that transcends centuries, hemispheres. 

With this book we arrive at Lent, those 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. It’s that time when the church—and the soul—faces the tomb, aware of its own mortality, seeking the promise of light on the other side. It’s a journey we make alone, yet not alone, surrounded as we are by those who have caught a glimpse of sunrise.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone, 
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

— David Whyte

Thursday, January 11, 2018


There is a trough in waves,
A low spot
Where horizon disappears
And only sky
And water
Are our company.
And there we lose our way
We rest, knowing the wave will bring us
To its crest again.
There we may drown
If we let fear
Hold us within its grip and shake us
Side to side,
And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
But if we rest there
In the trough,
Are silent,
Being with
The low part of the wave,
Our energy and
Noticing the shape of things,
The flow,
Then time alone
Will bring us to another
Where we can see
Horizon, see the land again,
Regain our sense
Of where
We are,
And where we need to swim.
~ Judy Brown ~
(The Sea Accepts All Rivers)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why all this music?

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That's crudely put, but ...
If we're not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?

~ Gregory Orr ~


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities. 
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. 
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
~ Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero ~
(murdered on March 24, 1980)