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