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A Family Freeze-Out Over Aging Addressed “In the Bleak Midwinter”


“In the Bleak Midwinter”
Writer: Dorothy Lyman
Director: Katie McHugh
Cast: Dorothy Lyman, Abigail Hawk, Tim Bohn, Brennan Lowery, Jeanne Lauren Smith, and Shannon Stowe
Running through September 23rd

Shetler Studios & Theatres 12th Floor - Theatre 54
244 W. 54th St.

In a taut 75 minutes, veteran actress/playwright Dorothy Lyman addresses the impact aging has as one loses control of life and home through no fault of one’s own. Drawing on her own autobiographical experience, the play details how recently widowed Elizabeth Gladstone (Lyman) copes with managing her Catskills-based farm, her daughter and grand daughter  now that her decades-lomg marriage is gone. As she faces aging, daughter Betsy (Abigail Hawk) and her husband (Tim Bohn) wants to sell the property and cash out bringing mom to Florida. Granddaughter Liz (Jeanne Lauren Smith) and her boyfriend (Brennan Lowery) think she should hang on to the farm, as the two want to try to make a go of it for grandma. As the winter days wear on, the frayed situation makes everyone at odds with each other. For Elizabeth, can she see a future beyond the Gladstone Family farm?

Produced on a shoestring budget, Emmy-winning Lyman’s a skilled playwright and actor who has lots of experience under her belt having been in “Mama’s Family,” “All My Children” and “The Nanny.” She’s also directed scores of television episodes, done films and written several other plays. But the subject of aging has been a personal concern of hers being addressed in a yet-to-be released doc and this play.

She enlisted several fine local actors including Hawk, who has been a regular on “Bluebloods” as police commissioner Frank Reagan’s adjunct — and has starred in several features. The other experienced cast members offer sturdy support and the design  -- including Johanna Pan’s very authentic-feeling set design  -- makes for a realistically well-worn homestead. 

Rarely does a play so unflinchingly coped with the onslaught of aging and loss, addressing how it affects everyone in the family circle.  And though the play has its rough edges and an ending that comes up on you in somewhat abrupt fashion — this affecting drama really addresses some bleak issues all of us will have to cope with someday.

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