|Photo by Richard Fleischman|
|Jamila Anderson and Rebecca Yoho.|
Knitting and fabric are the core of Unraveled
, Theatre Unbound's latest production. There is the knitting that hospice nurse Anna does while working with each of her patients, there is the very fabric of time and the universe that professor Joy obsesses over, and there is woven pattern that connects Joy to her dying mother, George.
Though Jennifer Blackmer's play occasionally loses focus, the central relationship between Joy and George reigns over the work, showing us the pain, anger, and love that come when you have to say goodbye.
George is not only dying of cancer, but the chemotherapy has triggered dementia. Joy (Rebecca Myers Yoho) -- distracted by her work, office politics, and a relationship with grad student Michael (Eli Coats) -- hires Anna (Jamila Anderson) to help her mother during the final months of her life.
Joy isn't just distracted, however. She and her mother have always been a two-person team. Her father has never been in the picture, and it was left to the younger George to do all of the child-rearing. Blackmer showcases this by having two actors take on the role of George: Kristen C. Mathisen plays her at the end of her life, while Carin Leonard-Gorrill is the younger, vibrant version of the character.
The moments in the play that take us away from this central relationship, from Joy's too-on-the-nose lectures to her relationship with Michael, really only provide a distraction from its emotional core. The scenes with Joy and her older, lost mother pack a wallop like a hammer, while those with George's younger self beautifully illustrate where these two characters have been and what has been cast aside.
The performances are solid, and Mary L. Cutler does a good job of harnessing a script that is all over the place. The end result is a work that is messy, honest, and painful -- a bit like life at these points.
IF YOU GO:
Woman's Club of Minneapolis
410 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis
410 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis, MN