Peggy goes to lunch with her grown children, not knowing what they have in mind, only to find her independence threatened. They, in turn, get a real shock as they discover they don't know everything about Mom, and she actually does have a life of her own.
Actress Cristine McMurdo-Wallis who earlier appeared in Rabbit Hole and The Man From Nebraska at Stages Repertory Theatre has returned to Houston to play Peggy, a woman confronting her children and her own mortality, in playwright Joel Drake Johnson's drama Four Places.
Though not as old as Peggy, MrcMurdo-Wallis understands the push-pull of parent-child and aging. "My mother who's been this incredibly powerful woman and she's 86 and thank God but you see her sort of losing her power, losing her control of life. and I notice that as I'm aging. It's a thing that's common to everyone. The children become the parents and I don't think the parents ever like relinquishing that. Does anybody?"
McMurdo-Wallis says while this is a common situation, it's one that Americans tend to ignore. "This is a loving family. This is a real family unit. They've got problems but they are a family. I don't really think there are any villains in the piece. It's just life, trying to deal with it with strength and dignity."
Despite the darkness of some of the 90-minute play, McMudo-Wallis says there is a lot of humor in it. "It's good theater in a classical sense; it's Arthur Miller good theater but in contemporary language."
And she relishes being back at Stages. "I've played big houses and that's fun too but this is such an intimate setting; you do feel like it's accessible." She credits Director Kenn McLaughlin and his staff with being very determined to put on the best possible shows they can. "They're all very dedicated to what they're doing. It's one of those theaters that are the reasons I got into theater."
Four Places runs through May 22 in Stages' Yeager Theater, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information go to www.stagestheatre.com or call 713-527-0123.
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