For National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Theatre on the Square is presenting Blackberry Winter, a relatively new play by Steve Yockey. Vivienne Avery is a middle-aged baker who oversees her mother’s care. Her mother’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point that Vivienne must come to terms with the transition from assisted-living facility to a nursing home.
Samples of the baked goods that Vivienne boasts about would help make the show easier to swallow. While Vivienne repeatedly insists, “It’s not about me,” her incessant bitching about her life gets old—fast. As does the amount of time spent on immaterial details, such as the intricate recitation of a recipe for coconut cake. The tired script is flatly, haltingly delivered by Gari Williams, who had to reference notes Saturday night. It is practically a one-woman play, which is challenging for an actor, to say the least, and I can’t really blame her for not remembering the rambling lines of her character. There is nothing enlightening or entertaining here.
In addition, there is a bizarre Alzheimer’s origin myth created by Vivienne. Using animals. Chelsea Anderson is lovely as a lively, high-spirited white egret, and Dan Flahive somehow actually captures the essence of a slightly cantankerous gray mole. As absolutely ridiculous as this premise is, Anderson and Flahive insert some much-needed diversion. Sadly, the first of their-three part installment is abandoned in favor of a tirade by Vivienne about scarves. Yet Anderson and Flahive are left on stage to look interested in Vivienne’s monologue until they finally get another turn. Those three short scenes helped me endure the 80 minutes of this play.