Without much theatrics MetroStage delivers great theater

By Jeanne Theismann

November 24, 2005

The venue is small, the play has only two characters and it does not rely on complex stage or lighting devices. Even the dialog is simple and easily understood.

No, you won’t find any extraordinary theatrical components at MetroStage’s “For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again.” What you will find is extraordinary theater.

Catherine Flye and Bruce Holmes together deliver a powerful performance and completely engage the audience in a first-person account of a loving and often comical relationship between mother and son. 

The intimate, 130-seat theater near the Potomac River in the north end of Alexandria is the perfect setting for this uplifting and superbly acted drama. From the first scene, the audience feels as if it is part of the family. The result is an up-close and personal glimpse of a relationship that in its simplicity becomes thoroughly captivating.

Cleverly written by award-winning French Canadian playwright and novelist Michel Tremblay, the play is an homage to the woman he credits as his artistic and personal inspiration.

With humor and tenderness, Tremblay shows us the subtle and touching relationship he shares with his mother, throughout his childhood until her death when Tremblay was 21 years old.

We first meet Tremblay as a 10-year-old, on the receiving end of one of his mother’s many comical reprimands. “Words have always been her most effective weapon,” he tells us.

We are told that she is “the everywoman that we all will recognize” — a delicate woman of strength, courage and humility. For the next 90 minutes, we follow the two of them over an 11-year span in a series of vignettes, as their relationship matures into one of confidant and friend that ends far too soon.

Flye delivers a brilliant performance as Tremblay’s mother. Flye brings every word to life as she mesmerizes the audience with her range of both comedic and dramatic talents. 

She captivates with her display of the humor and sometimes exaggerated theatrics used by Tremblay’s mother to teach him the lessons of life, and to make his world more colorful in postwar Montreal

Absorbed

Holmes is the narrator and delivers an equally compelling performance as the young Tremblay.

He displays perfect timing as he draws the audience into the complex, sometimes frustrating but always loving relationship between a mother and son. He seamlessly transitions from role of narrator to son, and absorbs the audience in his banter as an adolescent challenging his mother’s constant “because I said so” style of reasoning. 

In “For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again,” director John Vreeke delivers what is promised in the opening lines of the play, namely that “tonight you will not see any of the usual theatrics.”

Except for the final scene — a surreal farewell to his dying mother — there are no set or costume changes, which allows the audience to focus completely on the performances of Flye and Holmes. 

Without the usual theatrics, Vreeke allows us to fully appreciate this compelling story of love, void of extraneous distractions. 

“For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again” is theater at its best, inspiring laughter and tears through a quiet and elegant tribute to a mother’s love.

“For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again” continues through Nov. 27 at MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria. Showtime is 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. Extra Saturday matinee Nov. 26. Tickets are available at www.boxofficetickets.com or by calling 1-800-494-8497. For more information visit www.MetroStage.org.