Encore Michigan

“Too Much, Too Much, Too Many” a touching treatise on loss and grief

Review February 07, 2016 Bridgette Redman

WILLIAMSTON, Mich.–Loss does funny things to people. It’s one of those intense experiences that can leave a person forever changed.

In Too Much, Too Much, Too Many at Williamston Theater loss leaves people unable to go on with their lives and face the world. The play shows some of the long-term effects of grief and mourning, albeit in an extreme way for the characters in the story.

Rose has locked herself in her room for more than six months after the death of her husband, James, who had been suffering from dementia. Her daughter, Emma, has been caring for her and has similarly locked herself away from the world first to care for her father and then to care for her mother.

The play switches between memory and reality and Elspbeth Williams’ scenic design creates almost a dreamscape as a backdrop to the many scenes of Too Much, Too Much, Too Many. The characters have a few simple pieces of furniture to suggest the rooms they are in while the background consists of draped sheers and rough-hewn steps and stone. Center stage is a door which separates the characters from the world they inhabit.

This play is fraught with emotion and a tear-jerker as the issues of grief and heartbreak drive the characters to push others away and become steeped in their memories.

Brenda Lane’s Rose is brittle and sure of herself. She’s locked herself in her room, but she knows exactly what she wants and has more confidence than her actions would seem to indicate. Lane communicates well with both silence and body language, creating her character in detail even before she speaks. Her Rose is someone who is likeable in her sharpness and sympathetic in her grieving. She’s a woman who has had a full life and Lane makes sure her wisdom and character shine through.

On the other side of the door is her daughter, Emma, played by Emily Sutton-Smith. Sutton-Smith has absorbed this role and brings to life the heartbreak and grief that Emma is experiencing. When the pastor tells her she looks tired, she genuinely looks tired. She has a weariness that comes from dealing with her own loss at the same time as being thrust into the role of caretaker. Sutton-Smith creates a very vulnerable Emma, one who shies away from love even while pursuing it, starting with her relationship with her father.

David Daoust as the dead father plays an especially touching role where in memory scenes we see him degenerate from a strong, independent man to one who has lost all ability to communicate. We learn of his death and the manner of it before he ever appears on stage, so every instance is poignant. Daoust makes it clear why this man has left such a huge hole in the lives of the women he’s left behind. He has a charismatic presence and loves fully and deeply.

Key to change in this play is Aaron T. Moore as Pastor Hidge. Hidge is sent by the local congregation to help coax Rose back to her life. He enters the lives of this family determined to reach out and minister to them in their loss. Moore is down-to-earth and patient in his ministrations. He listens carefully to the other performers and like Lane, communicates with his silences as much as with his speech. He’s an anchor to the world and sets about to coax both women back into it.

Directed by Tony Caselli, the play has a dreamy pace to it. We get to know the characters in each moment and nothing is rushed. This play exists not in the revelations of plot but in the interactions of characters.

Too Much, Too Much, Too Many is a play that invites you to experience emotions with the characters and to open yourself up to their journey. It is a poignant piece where all the artists have poured their heart into it to create something sincere and memorable.

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