Mrs. Kelly’s Journey plays at Trenton’s Theatre Office 2/5
TRENTON, MI – Mrs. Kelly’s Journey, a one-actor play written by and starring Breeda Kelly Miller will play at The Theatre Office here on February 5 at 7 PM. The address is 2447 West Jefferson Avenue.
A poignant and well-written memory piece about Miller’s Detroit/Lincoln Park upbringing and her subsequent experience caring for her mother for six years, her story does a superb job of connecting with her audience.
Mrs. Kelly’s Journey Home is a show that appeals to a large volume of today’s theatre patrons. There are more than 45 million unpaid caregivers of adults over the age of 65 in the U.S., according to pewresearch.org. That is a large and growing number as Baby Boomers age. The top of the Baby Boom is 76 today, and the bottom is 59.
Ms. Miller’s story originated as a ten-minute story at one of Director Brian Cox’s story-telling nights. Then, she and Cox teamed up with him as director to develop the two-hour show (with intermission) into a more complete piece.
Mrs. Kelly, Miller’s Mother, came to the U.S. from Ireland, Detroit specifically, with her husband and children in the 1950s. Miller does a beautiful job of bringing us along “the journey” through her Mother’s eyes, kindnesses, friendships, motherhood and marriage in the first half of the play. Mrs. Kelly could be any of our Mothers, which is the point. But Miller, helped by Cox’s directing, cherry-picks the best bits and brings to life all the little things that most of us with a similar upbringing feel are the mortar of the American family through the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The frugality, the closeness and friendships of neighbors, the struggles, the home-cooked meals.
It’s a photo-album that Miller brings to life (she actually compiled on while her Mother was in hospice) through her acting chops, as she changes characters through slight voice change and mannerisms like miming a cigarette when she takes on the role of her father.
In the second half of the show, we are met with Mrs. Kelly, the widow, who has to cope with a new life without her husband, no experience driving a car, and a gradual slide into dementia. Here, Ms. Miller’s own journey and her mother’s journey really converge in a way that confronts so many families. The roles reversed, Breeda becomes her Mother’s chief caregiver, bringing her into her home with her husband and children.
As anyone can attest, having an aging parent suffering from one of the several diseases of dementia come to live with you is an act of love that can hardly be equaled. The whole household becomes about that person who you don’t want to turn over to strangers until or unless it’s absolutely necessary. Parents of special needs children, such as those on the extreme side of the autism spectrum, can also relate to this situation and challenge of patience and heart.
Ms. Miller won a 2022 Wilde Award for Best One Person Play.