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Pie in the Sky

a Comedy/Drama
by Lawrence Thelen

COMPANY : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 5065

SHOWING : April 13, 2017 - April 30, 2017



“Pie In The Sky” is a comedy about what happens when the “nesting instinct” is applied to the end of one’s life. It’s the story of two women, Dory (65) and her mother, Margaret (85), who live together in a mobile home in Abilene, Texas. On this particular morning, Mama has awoken early with the over-whelming need to bake an apple pie. When Dory is awoken by the noise she joins her mother, and together they assemble the pie and chat. The conversation starts out innocently enough, but it soon becomes clear that Mama is attempting to tie up loose ends and put Dory’s life in better order before she departs this world. Pie In The Sky: To do good on Earth in hopes of obtaining some future reward in heaven.

Director David Thomas
Dory Karen Howell
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Apple of My Eye
by playgoer
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The two-hander "Pie in the Sky," receiving its concurrent premieres in Burbank, California and at ART Station, tells the story of an elderly mother who has arisen early on the morning of her live-in daughter’s 65th birthday to make her her favorite apple pie. The daughter ends up doing most of the work for the pie, but the mother has intentions to bring more intangible things than a pie into her daughter’s life. Bickering gives way to secrets being spilled, ending in resolution just as the oven timer dings to indicate readiness of the pie.

The program states that the action takes place in a mobile home, but that isn’t particularly the feel of Michael Hidalgo’s set, which consists of a kitchen stage left and a raised living room space stage right, with a kitchen table downstage of it. A hall stretches into the stage right wings. Fragments of the outside wall frame the playing space. A short refrigerator, a high window, and wood paneling give the suggestion of the layout of an outdated mobile home, but it’s a subtle suggestion. A Texas flag magnet on the refrigerator is the primary visual clue that the action takes place in Texas.

The two women inhabiting the home don’t really seem like mobile home park residents either. Karen Howell, as the daughter, has an inherently elegant bearing, and the salty orneriness of Barbara Bradshaw, as the mother, seems intended more to raise a reaction from her daughter than to pigeonhole the mother as white trash.

Does any of this matter? No. The performances are splendid, and the set is eminently workable. If we view these women as middle-class representatives of an aging generation, it simply means that they come across as more universal than residents of a specific Texas milieu.

Jeanne Fore’s costumes are nightwear and robes consistent with the early-morning time, along with aprons that aren’t intended to coordinate with anything. Michael Hidalgo’s lighting has some nice effects, particularly at the end when the sun is rising and then when the final tableau is achieved. Music at the start sets the mood of the intermissionless action.

David Thomas has directed the action to be fluid and to hit all the dramatic and comic highpoints. The script leaves a couple of things hinted at rather than stated (the paternal parentage of a cousin; why Dory keeps her arms covered), but the contentious love of a mother for her daughter comes through loud and clear. Two splendid performances and a pleasing dramatic arc make this far more than a gimmick production in which a crumb-top apple pie is actually made from scratch (except the crust!) and baked onstage. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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