By Barb Brouwer
Bernice Trimble is the centre of her family’s universe.
Unfortunately, it is a place that is slowly becoming more foreign to her as she copes with early onset dementia.
In The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, Shuswap Theatre’s upcoming MainStage play, we see how the vivacious and capable 55-year-old mother and her adult children navigate new and challenging family dynamics.
Bernice has seen how dementia stole her mother’s life and doesn’t want that for herself or her children
“The crux of the story is not about dementia; it’s about family and how you have to deal with a crisis,” says seasoned director Julia Body, noting the worst the audience glimpses of Bernice’s decline is occasional moments of confusion. “There is quite a bit of humour; it’s the way we humans handle tough situations.”
Bernice, a widow of one year, had been a social worker who raised two daughters and a son and ran a busy household. Now facing the loss of her independence, Bernice has two major concerns – retaining her dignity and protecting her children from having to deal with what could come.
The children will have to come to terms with the fact that the centre of their world is in decline.
The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble was written by Canadian Beth Graham in 2015 and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award.
Body says subject of the play will be familiar to many members of the audience.
Most people have been in situations where the outcome was not going to be good, she says, noting the story, narrated by the middle daughter, examines feelings of fear, love, exhaustion, impatience and more.
“It’s inescapable, we’re all going to get old and deal with situations we don’t want,” says Body. “The play doesn’t pull any punches, but at the same time it is gentle. It is emotional, but it also looks after us too.”
The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble contains mature themes and strong language and is presented by special arrangement with the Playwright’s Guild of Canada. The show runs Friday, April 29 to May 1, May 5 to 8 and May 12 to 14. For tickets and performance times, go online to shuswaptheatre.com.
Great things are on the way for the outside of the theatre at 41 Hudson Ave. as well.
Members of the theatre board Craig Massey and Peter Molnar are spearheading a project to refresh the façade.
Structural changes are not possible given there may be contaminated soil under and around the theatre, courtesy of a former filling station located at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Shuswap Street. The cost of shipping the soil to the Lower Mainland for remediation is cost prohibitive.
“We have established with the city what we can and cannot do,” Massey says. “Our plan is to remove the canvas awning and all cedar siding from the front, including what is inside the building.”
The aging canvas awning will be replaced by a retractable one that will provide shelter during inclement weather and a new welded, metal staircase will be installed. An LED marquee will also be installed, putting an end to the need for someone to climb a ladder to change information.
Massey says he is hoping the work will be completed by the end of summer.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter