COME PLAY A GAME OF CANDYLAND AND LIFE


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Compassion and choices, coming home, cancer, clowns, candy and champagne all figure prominently in Scott Stephen Kegler’s touching world premiere drama. Chestnut Street Playhouse will introduce “Champagne and Licorice” to audiences at its intimate space, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich weekends until Saturday, March 12.

Emily Donnel is sweetly sensitive in her role as Silky, as she copes with a reality newly complicated. She prefers to be called Cindy and at this momentous point in her life she deserves to be indulged. Whatever name she answers to, she needs friendship, understanding and love as well as moral support. Her days are at a crossroads and change is on the horizon. Away for many years, she has chosen New Year’s Eve for her emotional homecoming.

In the past year, she has said goodbye to her job, her car, her boyfriend and her apartment, taken a bucket list trip to Ireland and made a significant life-affirming decision. Waiting at a bus stop on the final leg of her destination, she chances to meet Phil (Michael Vernon Davis) who is remarkable for his red nose, giant feet and costume. Unable to continue reading her book, the two begin a conversation, each thinking the other is “creepy.”

While she apologizes a lot and he frequently takes comfort and courage from a bottle of alcohol, the pair connect on some spiritual level, so much so that she invites the clown, later on, to come to her New Year’s Eve party. Arriving home, Cindy learns she is not the only one with secrets and surprises. Her widowed mother Barbara (Heather Spiegal) has a live-in boyfriend Robert (Philip Tremblay) and a new pet rabbit. Her free-thinking brother Eddie (her real life brother Benjamin Donner) crashes in with his unusual “family” members Sacha (Nathan Rumney) and the pregnant Cherice (Alyson Fowler). While most family members are yours by birth and default, Eddie has chosen these people to love and care for.

As Dick Clark’s new celebrity replacements prepare to drop the crystal ball on the New Year, Cindy reveals her master plan, one she hopes everyone will accept and approve. Ready or not, she is determined to be her own advocate and dictate her own fate. Shane William Kegler directs this involving drama that debates end-of-life choices with a fine cast and with a delicate hand.

For tickets ($20), call Chestnut Street Playhouse at 860 -886-2378 or online at http://chestnutstreetplayhouse.tix.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Prepare to laugh a lot and cry a little as Cindy’s established and adopted families help her down her chosen path. Go to CompassionandChoices.org for more information or callĀ  800-247-7421 to learn about the work on this important issue.

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