Joel Pierson’s "Mourning Lori" in the Rose Firebay of the John Waldron Arts Center is a smoothly produced, nicely mounted thoughtful examination of a family reacting to the suicide of its wife and mother. It’s serious stuff, but there’s actually a good deal of humor along with the tears.
Aaron Moon plays the David the Hollywood screen writing son who still has active conversation with Dana Dyer Pierson, the Lori of the title. David has suffered a mental breakdown and hospitalization. It’s given him an almost warmly buddhistic calm that doesn’t completely insulate him, but seems to help. James Behnike is Michael, the father who spent most of his life caring for the ailing Lori. Michael walks through the play like a person who’s just beginning to wake up and isn’t quite sure about it. Whitney Christiansen is Talya, the daughter who became a nurse and has had to shoulder many of the family’s crises. Talya, true to form rebels a bit but does her usual shouldering. Jenn Robison Taylor is Carolyn the daughter who’s never quite gotten her feet under her and exists on temp jobs and a family allowance. She too, proves true to form absenting hersef from the eulogies. Daniel Grandmann made welcome appearances as the greasy host of a zanily funny "family feud" style skit and later makes a more restrained appearance as a funeral director.
At least initially, "Mourning Lori" feels more like an educational show than a real drama, a play with too much self consciousness of message. But this initial perception is challenged as the play goes on. There are no easy answers given for the family or its members. to the emotional traumas past and present. Characters reveal their good and bad qualities. They offer varying stories and even flatly contradict themselves about issues, pretty much the way we all can. .There is growth, there are insights and the family does pull together. The ending is an optimistic one. There are no easy answers, no one time revelations that we are supposed to believe will permanently change their lives.
Playwright Joel Pierson has set as his goal a sharing of perceptions, of feelings of common emotions and qualities and the that the play does.
"Mourning Lori" at the Rose Firebay in the John Waldron Arts Center has eight o’clock performances tonight and Saturday night at eight. There’s a Sunday matinee at two and then evening shows Thursday the 11th through Saturday the 13th.
You can find an interview with playwright Joel Pierson on our Arts Interviews page .