Just over a year ago I wrote about a play we had seen at the Chemainus Festival Theatre entitled “A Pretty Girl”.about a family torn apart just prior to World War 2. This past weekend we went to another of the Chemainus Theatre’s excellent productions. This one, “Over the River and Through the Woods”, is described on the theatre’s web page as a Family Comedy with the following outline:
Meet Nick – a single Italian-American from New Jersey – and both sets of his meddling grandparents over a series of Sunday dinners, as they try to sort out his love life and their destiny through pasta and wise-cracks. This heartwarming and hilarious family comedy plays with old world values, new family traditions and the differences between the generations. Tengo famiglia!
It is indeed hilarious. It was so funny that I would love to return and hear some of the lines that were drowned out by audience laughter. The play also has a poignant ending which caused me to reminisce on my own transitions in life. Nick in the play wants to take up a promotion offered to him on the other side of the country. Despite the fact that both sets of his grandparents emigrated from Italy to the USA to seek a better life they cannot comprehend Nick’s desire to separate from them in order to fulfill his own dreams in a different part of the same country.
Oh, how I wish I could have left my home in East Germany because of a desire to find a better life. Instead I was obliged to flee before finding myself and my family subjected to the Communist regime’s brutal bureaucracy. I escaped to the west without any job prospects, without knowing what life had in store for me, without knowing if I would ever see my parents again. As it transpired I was fortunate. I did find employment and I did see may parents and other family members a number of times before they died.
In the Chemainus production there is a moment at the end when Nick implores his last surviving widowed grandmother to join him and his new wife and expected baby in Seattle but she refuses. This scene brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me of my own Granny when we were evicted from our house in Stresow for the second time and she refused to accompany my mother and her four granddaughters. Had she reached the end of her tether? Did she know that at her age she might not survive the long trek on the road to nowhere? Did she just want to lay down and die after all the suffering to which she had been subjected and had witnessed? Would we ever, ever, see her again? You will find the answer to those questions when reading my book “We Don’t Talk About That”