By Gillian Hames
Special to The Progress
The Chilliwack Players’ Guild takes on the challenge of the twilight years with their poignant production of On Golden Pond.
They bring a seasoned director and an experienced cast to a play that’s filled with laughter while also tugging at the heartstrings.
On Golden Pond was written by Ernest Thompson in 1979, and is the story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who spend every summer on a lake called Golden Pond.
The play examines the great love between Norman and Ethel, the challenges of their twilight years.
“It’s a lovely mix of comedy and drama,” said Guild veteran Joan Hogan, who plays Ethel. “It’s a story about a marriage, a family. Norman is in a dark place and Ethel is trying to lift him back up.”
Hogan, has performed in 55 plays with the Guild, says she was drawn to the role of Ethel because of her complexities. She describes Ethel as the peacekeeper of the family.
“Ethel is a dramatic role…even though the play has a lot of humor,” said Hogan. “Ethel is very supportive of her husband, but worried about him.” Faced with the possibility of losing the love of her life as Norman’s health is in decline, she tries to keep things upbeat and light, all the while trying to keep her family together.
Hogan has known Graham Archer, who plays Norman, for over 30 years, and says their real-life friendship helps with their chemistry on-stage.
“There is a level of comfort and trust already there,” she said. “When you feel comfortable with someone on stage, you can really let go and explore the character.”
Archer has been a member of the Guild since 1979.
“Norman is still spry and active, even though he’s 80,” he said. “It’s his mind that is starting to fail him, so the challenge is how to play the character so he seems like a real person, and not a caricature of an old man. It’s about making choices that show his struggle.”
Director Clint Hames said the audience will connect with the honesty and poignancy of the story.
“I think we can all see each ourselves in this play, in these characters,” he said.
And the themes in the play are universal: “Transformation, aging and the impacts of aging,” Hames said. “The play is about how the process of growing up and changing never stop.”
On Golden Pond runs from Nov. 20-22 with a matinee showing on Nov. 23, and from Nov. 27-29. Show times are 7:30pm and 2pm for the matinee. Tickets $25 for adults and $20 for senior and students, Chilliwack Cultural Centre’s box office by phone at 604-391-SHOW (7469), on line at chilliwackculturalcentre.ca or by going to the box office in person.