The New England premiere of the second Clare Barron play at Wilbury Theatre Group is “You Got Older,” which is told in a series of vignettes. Barron blends reality with fantasy of the main character, Mae who has returned home to care for her father who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Mae is recovering from a broken relationship, the loss of her job, a strange rash that won’t go away and a recurring fantasy about a sexy blond cowboy. It won the 2015 Obie Award for Playwriting and Performance.
Mae has two sisters and a brother who come visit their dad in the hospital. She also has Mac, a male friend of her sister, Hannah. It seems like she has much in common with Mac. However, in times of stress or anxiousness she escapes into a fantasy world of a handsome cowboy who takes her mind off the troubles that she is currently facing about the seriousness of her father’s illness. Mae and her siblings discuss with each other over trivial matters in front of their sick father and even some sex talk that is hilarious. The scenes with Mac and the cowboy bring some levity to the proceedings.
Director Wendy Overly molds her seven-member cast into these characters marvelously and makes us confront a dramatic part of our lives when dealing with a parents final illness. She brings out the best in each of her cast members.
Rachel Dulude commands the stage as Mae and runs the gamut of emotions in this role. She is onstage in every scene and we watch her superb transitions from the first scene with the peppers in her father’s garden, to her meeting Mac in a bar, to her fun-filled fantasies with the cowboy, to a picnic with her siblings at the hospital, to an angry argument with her father and the dramatic, heartbreaking phone call from her father at the end of the show. Rachel delivers a tour de force performance in this enormous role. Jim O’Brien plays the patient and understanding father who is dealing with a life and death situation. He seems adjusted to going to the hospital in Seattle for his treatments and is slowly adjusting to his daughter living with him. The father-daughter relationship is so lifelike and excellently portrayed. Brilliant performances by the leading players.
The rest of the cast does a wonderful job in their roles, too. David Rabinow is a hoot as Mac, the man that Mae talks to in the bar. He becomes involved in her life in a bedroom scene that has to be seen to be believed. Teddy Lytle is hilarious as this naughty and bawdy cowboy who brings fleeting joy and happiness to the overwhelmed caretaker, Mae. She yearns for companionship, not having had sex in a very long time. Her dalliances with both men are the comic moments needed to temper the dramatic ones.
Rounding out the cast as Mae’s siblings are Beth Alianiello, Rachel Tondreault and Zachary Gibb. Their banter with Rachel in the hospital scene rings true of relatives in a sickroom as they discuss knitting a scarf for someone is bad luck, their musty odor of the family and one of them has to get married so they can have a dance party. So for a look at a show that will display deep seated emotions in families facing the illness of a parent that is dealt with in a comic and dramatic manner, be sure to catch “You Got Older” at Wilbury Theatre Group to witness superb acting and direction. It will definitely resonate with audience members who have lived through situations like this in real life.
“You Got Older” is playing through December 22 in repertory with Dance Nation at Wilbury Theatre Group, 40 Sonoma Court, Providence.