Love and loss: Bring a tissue to Theatre 98's 'Waverly Gallery'

By Allison Marlow
Managing Editor
allisonm@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 7/29/22

Exhausting. Infuriating. Funny. Maddening. Heartbreaking.Theatre 98's newest show, "Waverly Gallery," takes guests on an emotional journey through the onset and swift progression of Alzheimer's …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Love and loss: Bring a tissue to Theatre 98's 'Waverly Gallery'

Posted

Exhausting. Infuriating. Funny. Maddening. Heartbreaking.

Theatre 98's newest show, "Waverly Gallery," takes guests on an emotional journey through the onset and swift progression of Alzheimer's Disease for one dynamic and beloved family matriarch.

Gladys Green, portrayed by EA Keeble, is introduced as a worldly and globe-trotting gal who was the one to call if you needed anything done in Greenwich Village. Now in her 80s, the former lawyer manages an art gallery, or rather spends her days sitting in the art gallery talking to anyone who happens to stop by. The stories she tells are always the same, so are the questions she asks. Slowly she shows signs of dementia settling in.

Her grandson Daniel, played by Elijah Lindsey, narrates the family's struggle to keep Gladys in the gallery, in her own apartment and in their lives as she slips away.

The cast is rounded out by Lydia Noble, Jeff Noble, and JP Sylvester.

The play, written by Kenneth Lonergan, premiered on Broadway in 2018 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2001. It is a sharp deviation from Theatre 98's tendency to largely produce comedies.

The show was originally slated as part of the theater's 2020 season but was delayed due to the spread of COVID-19.

Heather Delker, president of Theatre 98's board of directors, said the board considered whether the heavy topic would draw in viewers after two years of pandemic grief.

"We did think a lot about whether people would be in the mood for something about aging and death and dying," she said. "We decided to go ahead and do it because we felt like it was such a good script."

The production is directed by well-known local actor and director Timothy Guy, who is no stranger to heavy storytelling. Guy routinely breathes new life into storied and award-winning productions such as "A Streetcar Named Desire," which he directed for Theatre 98 in 2019.

In "Waverly Gallery," the emotions feel real as the dialogue mingles and knots itself between characters during family discussions that spiral from topic to topic and person to person, just as those conversations do in real life.

The sets tell a story, too, often a hallmark of Guy's productions. As Gladys' memory fades, so does the set.

The story ends with a single packed box on the floor.

When you come to see "Waverly Gallery," bring a tissue. You are going to need it.

Stay in the know on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Sign up for our free email newsletter.

* indicates required