|LA Weekly - January 28, 2004
Grace and Glorie
Home from the hospital, 90-year-old Grace (Nan Tepper) lies alone and dying in her backwoods cabin (Jeff G. Rack's suitably atmospheric set). In strides Glorie (D.J. Harner), a hospice volunteer with an MBA from Harvard, determined to care for the crotchety old lady despite her cantankerous objections. Grace's primitive living conditions and trust-in-the-Lord philosophy dismay the sophisticated Glorie, whose sprightly do-good resolve wavers after she burns herself on Grace's wood-burning stove and confronts a rodent under the sink.
Gradually, these two polarized individuals find common ground, sharing secrets (we learn why a Harvard postgraduate is changing bedpans) and offering each other enlightenment and solace.
Much of playwright Tom Ziegler's setup is predictable, and his cliche-ridden blueprint for Grace's character ultimately presents Tepper with an insurmountable encumbrance. (Details also irk: Would a 90-year-old cancer-ridden woman really see well enough to knit?) Still, as directed by Judy Welden, the production compels, held together by Harner's calibrated portrayal of a smart worldly woman struggling without faith to heal her festering wounds. --- Deborah Klugman