Aviva Ravel’s “Dance Like a Butterfly,” a one-woman show about ageing, was staged Friday in the Barbara Barrett Theatre, featuring well-known local actress Lisa Hurd, who has performed the piece not only in St. John’s but has toured it to a number of mainland venues.
Seated in a wheelchair, an elderly and infirm Jewish woman of 85 is on the verge of discharge from hospital after lengthy and painful treatment for a multiply broken hip, occasioned by a fall at home, where she lived alone.
She confides her hopes and cares and life story to the audience, while also conversing with unseen characters in the hospital — doctors, nurses, patients, social worker visitors.
Buoyant and optimistic, she talks of survival tactics in this realm of dentures and bedpans, while reminiscing about her youthful glory days and her three late husbands. She yearns to return to her home and treasured possessions, but, as her unseen, bossy niece insists, she will never be able to live independently, and so must sell her apartment to pay for residence in a nursing home. No question of niece taking on the care-giving.
Despite the theme, the piece is generally bright and cheerful, punctuated by music cues and snatches of song, though flecked with pathos and nostalgia. As to performance, Hurd affectionately and touchingly embodies the feisty and opinionated Tillie Rheinblatt in an upbeat, virtuoso rendering.
The current run of “Dance Like a Butterfly,” which Hurd has been performing on and off for 16 years, was limited to a matinee and an evening show, the former of which I attended on Friday.
It was good to see Hurd on stage again, a sentiment evidently shared by an audience of 30 or so, who received the production warmly. And, as I left the theatre to write this notice, I recollected that back in 1985 it was Lisa’s recommendation that got me into the theatre-reviewing game.