You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Theater review: ART Station dishes out a warm ‘Pie in the Sky’


With a nod to that wise old Alabama matriarch from the popular book and movie “Forrest Gump,” life isn’t only like a box of chocolates, where you never know what you might get. According to her Texas counterpart in the new play “Pie in the Sky,” life can be like a frozen crust, too — a lot easier to mold and deal with after you let it thaw.

The two-character one-act comedy-drama (written by the Connecticut-based Lawrence Thelen) takes place in an Abilene trailer park, and it more or less unfolds in “real time.” Mama, who’s 85 and shares a mobile home with her daughter, Dory, is up by 4 a.m. to make their favorite dessert for Dory’s 65th birthday. Over the next 80 minutes, they basically prep, mix and bake an actual apple pie on stage, removing it hot from the oven with just precious moments to spare.

ART Station artistic director David Thomas’ agreeable premiere production features local theater veteran Karen Howell (late of “Greetings, Friend …” at Georgia Ensemble) as the resigned and retiring Dory, opposite Barbara Bradshaw (an accomplished actress based in Florida) as the frank and frisky Mama.

RELATED: Alliance Theatre will scatter 2017-2018 shows around metro area

For a while, it seems as though two cooks in the kitchen — the modest, authentic scenic design is by Michael Hidalgo — may be one too many. As Mama “works her magic,” Dory wonders if there’s an “order” to any of it.

They humorously bicker and banter about the right way to core and slice an apple, the proper apple-to-crust ratio, the need to measure the ingredients precisely (or not), whether everything’s really better with brown sugar (even shrimp scampi), and, yes, that symbolically important step of molding a thawed 9-inch pie crust to fit the 10-inch pie pan of life.

Once it’s all assembled and put in to bake, their “idle chat” gradually turns less trivial, albeit no more “subtle” (as Mama puts it). During the last 30 minutes of the show, skeletons emerge from the family closet concerning Mama’s husband and Dory’s father, Mama’s wayward sister and Dory’s estranged daughter, and a tragic accident involving Dory’s husband and son. Mama’s dizzy spells seem to be getting worse, although the scars on Dory’s wrists have healed well enough.

Mother and daughter soon come to concur that the random or arbitrary “nature of life” can be challenging. But, as surely as Mama finally notes that “If your heart’s not in it, you won’t make a good pie,” the tender and perceptive performances of Howell and Bradshaw work wonders with the utterly familiar recipe of “Pie in the Sky,” genuinely humanizing what could have merely played out like a hokey or mawkish extended episode of “Mama’s Family.”

“The truth is what you believe it is,” Mama says. While some of the show’s ingredients might be a bit hard to swallow on their own, in the believable hands of these co-stars, it all blends together and goes down as smoothly and effortlessly as possible.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Concert review and photos: John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris, Carlene Carter ooze authenticity at Chastain show
Concert review and photos: John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris, Carlene Carter ooze authenticity at Chastain show

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene In his youth, John Mellencamp was a masterful brat. As a more grizzled man of 65, Mellencamp is still poking out his chest and delivering frank proclamations wrapped in fiddles and acoustic guitars.
A garden for special-needs kids grows — and kids mature, too
A garden for special-needs kids grows — and kids mature, too

DAVIE, Fla. — The banana peels come from the pie shop. The carrot pulp comes from the juice bar. Food remnants at Bob Roth’s New River Groves in Davie do not go in the garbage. They head for compost containers out back, 5-gallon paint buckets where scraps are turned into gardening gold by students with autism and other developmental disabilities...
How to be a good neighbor in urban agriculture
How to be a good neighbor in urban agriculture

With the retirement of buggy horses in the city a century ago, the mess, smell and flies suddenly declined. Eventually ordinances were drafted to gradually purge the urban world of farm animals, solving a multitude of problems they caused in high density areas. Today these old ways of thinking are challenged by urban agriculture aficionados who are...
10 tips for affordable nursery design
10 tips for affordable nursery design

Nursery design doesn’t have to break the bank. There are a number of cost-saving and creative ideas to create a nursery that is inviting, warm and friendly. When it comes to creating a nursery on a budget, here are some top Design Recipes tips. 1. Paint. Painting remains one of the most affordable ways to decorate a space. From strips to stencils...
Where can I find it?
Where can I find it?

Readers have been asking about an omelet recipe making the rounds in which the eggs are cooked in plastic bags. They’re not sure what kinds of plastic bags they should buy that are safe to use in cooking. I found some answers that should get them experimenting with the bagged omelet without worries. Of course, if you had a FoodSaver, you could...
More Stories