One of the characters in “Do Not Go Gentle” is no longer alive, but don’t think that makes the play a downer.
“When people hear it is a play about a dead woman, they may assume it will be depressing, but it is actually a very uplifting story,” said Fran Sillau, executive director of the Circle Theatre, where the show premieres Friday. “It is a beautiful play which has as many, if not more, elements of comedy as it does drama. It deals with situations we all have faced, or will face, at some point.”
The play, by Suzan Zeder, is about Grandma Lillian (Sue Mouttet) and her family. The audience can see her onstage, but her loved ones cannot. The story is set in 1991 at the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, when Grandma’s relatives gather at her house to go through her possessions following her death. Her son, Windsor (Patrick Brusnahan) comes from overseas with his daughter Kelly (Desia Griffin) to settle his mother’s affairs.
Windsor has been estranged from his mother since he joined the military against her wishes, but Kelly had a special bond with Lillian nevertheless. With other family members, they learn things about Lillian they had never known, including the mystery behind wild murals found throughout her house.
Sillau said “Do Not Go Gentle” illustrates that age doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship. In addition, it has a compelling message about the importance of staying in touch with loved ones, and really getting to know them, he said.
It also examines both sides to war and the military, a divisive topic in many families. Kat Cover is the director.
The show runs through June 15 at the theater’s home in Hanscom Park United Methodist Church.
Sign up for the Go newsletter
This complete guide of local music, movies, dining and entertainment will have you weekend ready.
1 of 16
"Aladdin" grabs you from the moment the curtain rises on a stage filled with brilliant color. This show requires performers to be expert vocalists, athletic dancers and comic actors, and, for the most part, this touring cast is up to the challenge. Read more
"Return to Niobrara," deals with issues that unfortunately are as pertinent today as they were when Chief Standing Bear sued General George Crook in the 1870s: human rights, racism and stereotypes, among others. It's undoubtedly one of the best shows of the past year. Read more
Despite a lack of scenery and trims to the script, this production of "South Pacific" had a lot of heart and energy. Read more
What a story "I and You" is, complete with an ending that stunned everyone in the premiere-night audience. And what a group of actors, directors, designers and technicians the theater has chosen to tell it. Read more
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is a raw, honest play, performed by actors who understand that. If you're used to rainbows and bluebirds, it will rattle you. But nonetheless, it is a worthwhile production. Read more
"Of Mice and Men" is a faithful version of John Steinbeck's legendary novella, with a fine cast of actors, fabulous music evocative of the period and a theater space ideal for the 11-member cast. Read more
"The Doll-Maker’s Gift" looks at the impact of pogroms on Russian Jews in the early 1900s. But it has more to say about kindness and hope, helping adults and children alike believe that the world may just hold more good people than bad. Read more
There isn’t a dud in the cast of "On Your Feet." The touring musical about Gloria and Emilio Estefan has lots of energy, a bit of heart and enormous appeal. Read more
The story behind "The Bridges of Madison County" isn't any more compelling than it ever was. But the Playhouse show, with its first-rate vocal work, acting and production values, is undeniably stunning. Read more
"Come From Away" is a warm and witty look at the generosity of a Canadian town to stranded jet passengers during 9/11, and inspires one to be a more generous, caring person. Read more
"One Man, Two Guvnors" was ably directed, features a supporting cast every bit as special as the lead actor and captures the best of British comedy in a side-splitting production. Read more
"Dragons Love Tacos" is aimed squarely at kids. It has an uncomplicated and somewhat repetitive kooky story that doesn’t move too fast. Though I found my mind wandering at times, I derived my joy from seeing the kids' reactions. Read more
"Men on Boats" tells a historical story in an innovative way, and the direction and acting are superb. But figuring out the underlying message was a bit challenging. Read more
"The Woodsman" is everything theater can be. It doesn't need elaborate or expensive embellishments or more than an hour and change to tell a warm, fully realized and absolutely irresistible story. Read more
"Miss Saigon" has some absolutely breathtaking music, and cast members of the touring Broadway show have some absolutely breathtaking voices. The show's subject matter is still relevant today, and it doesn't pull any punches. Read more
"Ragtime" offers a portrait of immigration that contradicts some of the narratives today. It's been my experience in this job that the Playhouse always saves its season-best for last. That's true again this year. Read more