The Quality of Life, written by Jane Anderson and directed by John Sams, is a peek into what happens when a couple who has lost their adult daughter to violence visits another couple who has lost everything to a fire.
Dinah and Bill are struggling to find any joy or happiness after the loss of their daughter. Dinah convinces Bill to take a trip with her to visit her cousin Jeannette who has just lost her house to a wildfire and whose husband has late stage cancer. Jeannette and Neil are free-living spiritual people who clash with Dinah and Bill’s christian philosophies. Things are said, feelings exposed, opinions and faith are questioned and challenged.
This play labors in Act One through polite conversations between two couples who don’t really know each other while navigating the obligation of being connected as family. Trying to be sympathetic to one another’s plight and true to one’s own beliefs at the same time. I know what the playwright is trying to accomplish here and the audience for the performance I attended seemed to accept it willingly. As Act One came to a close, I pleaded internally for this play to get somewhere. Act Two delivers the goods. The characters finally truly speak their minds and take off the blindfolds of religion and delusions of the hippie dippie view of life being a wild ride and everything is just “stuff” we shouldn’t get attached to. One couple wants someone to blame and the other couple doesn’t want to blame anyone.
By the end, both couples realize the truth lies somewhere in-between bringing understanding, forgiveness, and healing. I hope those who see this play get that. The truth lies somewhere in-between. When we meet in the in-between, we can really see one another, love each other, and be there for each other.
Kim Fairbairn plays Dinah with emotion like a coffee cup filled too close to the brim, the slightest movement spills it over the edge. Ward Fairbairn plays her husband Bill, with the awkwardness of a man who is desperate to be the “man” of the house clinging to what he thinks he is supposed to do instead of just loving his wife. Debbie Wright plays Jeannette with a delusional empti-headed tunnel vision approach like what a cult member would sound like when explaining their way of living. Don Taco plays Neil, Jeannette’s guru and love of her life, who is dying from cancer with an emotional connection I have not seen before. He reaches a depth of realization with his character Neil giving me the payoff I was hoping for with this play.
The material is deep. Obviously. A murdered daughter, a home lost to fire, a husband dying of cancer. The play isn’t for everyone. But then, it is. Bill’s character says you can’t compare the loss of his daughter to the loss of the house. He’s right. You can’t compare. Because loss is loss. Our job as humans is just to be there for one another. Even when we don’t agree.
Two shows remain, 3 & 7 pm today only. Click HERE for tickets and showtimes.