In the Blue of the Evening – An Enchanting, Humorous Look at Aging
Amelia Van Brunt of Bad, Bad Bunny company from San Francisco gives the audience a laugh out loud romp through the troubles of old age while still delivering a hint of the pain and frustration of aging. Her character, Mona Whittaker, lives alone in a leaky apartment, her husband deceased and her children absent. Her best ally and comfort is her plush Lazy Boy rocker that serves as her nap nest, catapult, and boat as she imagines the leak becoming a flood. Mona’s other joys are tea and the newspaper obituaries (do come to the show to see why). Her nemesis is her collection of pesky alarm clocks that buzz to remind her deteriorating memory of her meds (with a shot of booze, for medicinal purposes only) and the paper boy who throws the blinkety-blank paper into the garden where she can’t reach it.
Van Brunt’s goal is not to present a realistic view of aging, but to capture the experience of a feisty old woman whose mind is slipping into dementia and mixing the past, present and even the future. This Van Brunt captures well with stories of forbidden childhood love for the Indian curry vendor, or a waltz with her long gone partner juxtaposed with her fear of drowning in a flood that is yet to happen, and then zapping into the present to rant at the paperboy or make a cup of tea with four lovely sugar cubes. Her character, Mona, snaps in and out of awareness of the audience with hilarious effect.
It was interesting to see a young performer, skilled in clowning and physical comedy, take on an elderly character. She does so with great imagination, playing with graceful and robust clowning about Mona’s habits of snoozing, drooling, staring, shuffling, spilling, and weathering the storms of fear. I also enjoyed that this actress knows how and when to speed things up and when to hold a moment and take her time to let us laugh, and we certainly did, and not just me, (a 65-year old) but all the younger lads and lasses too. A young fellow in front of me chuckled, laughed and guffawed all the way through. However, we also paused and felt the sting of aging exactly when we should have.
At the age when my generation of 55 to 75 year-olds are terrified of the ‘D’ word or the ‘A’ word it was nice to have a laugh while being touched by an old lady’s wish to experience once in her life the beauty of a snowfall.