LATHAM — The play’s title — “Grand Horizons” — refers to the name of the senior complex where married couple Nancy (Christine Boice Saplin) and Bill (Phil Rice) live.
An ironic name when the first words of the play are Nancy’s to Bill: “I think I would like a divorce.”
Bess Wohl’s Tony-nominated script from 2019 then plunges into an exploration, both amusing and touching, of how Nancy has tentatively arrived at this idea and what the family is going to do about it.
The production at Curtain Call is superb.
If Nora hadn’t walked out the door as a young woman, she might have ended up Nancy 50 years later. Nancy doesn’t know what she wants, exactly, a state of mind that frustrates sons Ben (Jeffrey Stubits) and Brian (David Nathanielsz), both of whom are stunned by the casualness with which their parents have announced the end of their marriage.
Pregnant daughter-in-law Jess (Josephine O’Connor) tries, unsuccessfully, to get the fractured couple to reunite through counseling exercises and conversation, while the sons alternately boss their parents, snap at each other and grieve the loss of their remembered happy family.
The territory Wohl covers is not new, and the narrative technique is familiar: chronological, with dialogue broken up by revealing monologues, and lessons learned by the characters and the audience.
But Wohl introduces two characters outside the family: Tommy (Ryan Fuchs), a young man Brian picks up in a gay bar one night; and Carla (Kathleen Reilly), Bill’s new flame, both of whom provide relief from the slightly claustrophobic goings-on in the condo. The ending, too, is a clever bookend to the first scene, again taking place at the kitchen table as Nancy and Bill deconstruct what has just happened over the previous week to them and the family. In short, the writing is rewarding.
Once more the Curtain Call tech team — Bill Fritz, Rebecca Gardner and Andy Nice — has created a home you feel you could move into. Beth Ruman’s costumes (like Carla’s vivid salmon print top, scarf and capris, complementing her equally vivid red hair) bespeak personality.
Carsen Joenk’s apt sound design includes pop songs about romance, among them “Stop! In the Name of Love” and the bubblicious “Love Will Keep Us Together”; and welcome back to Curtain Call, after an 11-year hiatus, Hollie Miller, the production’s stage manager.
The production’s various moods ring true throughout, thanks to Matthew Moross’ insightful direction of a brilliant cast. (Note: Moross is my colleague at The Gazette.) The outbursts, such as those by the tightly wound Ben and the frustrated Jess, are loud and frightening. The moments between Tommy and Brian sputter and snarl, sadly. Bill, a retired pharmacist whose real joy now is stand-up comedy, practices his routine alone with earnestness and self-deprecation. And Nancy and Carla have a sweetly awkward scene in Act II, each rooted to her spot in the kitchen but trying to find common ground.
Perhaps the most remarkable conversation is the one between Nancy and Brian, during which Saplin shapes a confessional monologue as heartrending as one could wish for.
Two memorable lines: In that same monologue, Nancy says to her son, who is uncomfortable about his mother’s revelations, “I will be a whole person to you.” After all, she was Nancy before she was Mom.
And later she says to her family, “Truth is the first part of love.”
Perhaps what happens to this family is what happens to many marriages and families: After a while, we are not fully present to each other. Instead of sharing grand horizons, we settle for not-so-grand illusions.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
WHEN: Through June 25
HOW MUCH: $30
MORE INFO: 518.877.7529; curtaincalltheatre.com