Old actors never die …

… they just get better at ad libbing when they forget their lines. Chance and curiosity took us to Parkland at the Gardens recently, the very elegant residence for retirees which opened this year facing Victoria Park, just next to the Anglican Cathedral of All Saints, and across from Humani-T Cafe on South Park Street. The occasion was a play entitled “The Parcel,” a one-performance only event, staged and acted by the Parkland Players. They were a game crew: spunky even, acting with vim even when the lines escaped them, and the prompter’s cues were audible to most of the audience. It is hard to say whose performance was the best – perhaps the detective, resplendent in Mountie scarlet in his wheelchair, trying to bring clarity to the chaotic scene, or perhaps the doctor, who delivered his lines with energy and expression, even though he was reading them from his clipboard. That was a nice touch.

One nonagenarian theatregoer asked us, “But what was the point?” We had to concede that it was not a particularly meaningful play, and that it was mostly about how a little mystery – a parcel left in a waiting room – can cause otherwise reasonable people to imagine the worst. The audience certainly found the cast’s catastrophizing funny, as they returned again and again to the same concerns – or perhaps they just lost their way in the script. It was hard to tell, but it didn’t stop us from laughing.

Why should this little performance interest readers of the English Department blog? We were delighted to recognize our own Professor Emeritus Renate Usmiani (who retired from the Department in 1996, and who doesn’t look a day older than she did then) as the assistant director, and, we imagine, the driving force behind the Parkland Players.  As the program blurb said, “Renate has spent her entire life in drama and theatre.” We remember particularly fondly a series of summer dinner theatre productions held in Rosaria. Now Renate predicts “the star of Parkland will rise on the theatrical horizon.” And we look eagerly for it to swim again into our ken.


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