Watts wants to see her childhood home before she dies. She plans her escape
from her weak-willed son and terrifying daughter-in-law, in whose apartment she
now lives, and makes her way there with nothing in her purse except a pension
cheque. It is no great distance to Bountiful from Houston, Texas, but for her
it is the adventure she has been dreaming of for 20 years.
is not a challenging drama, nor one which is strong on plot; it belongs to a
golden era of homespun, American storytelling where there are few surprises,
barely a twist to be seen, and all the complications are simple and easily
resolved. There isn’t a memorable line in the play, and it takes an inordinate
length of time to tell a story in which very little actually happens. However,
what we get a-plenty is elegiac charm and a homage to old-fashioned family
values and the wealth of the human spirit.
by the late Horton Foote, whose screenplays include the great To
Kill a Mockingbird, The Trip to Bountiful was first seen in the
1950s, with Lilian Gish as Cassie Watts. It was filmed in 1985, with an
Oscar-winning performance by Geraldine Page. It is unashamedly nostalgic and
unfolds with careful explanation of every action and every motivation – there are
no mysteries here. It may be achingly slow, but it is tender, heartfelt and
quietly engrossing. Following in some illustrious footsteps, we get a
glowing performance in the role of Cassie by Alicia Farnworth. She is
sprightly, cantankerous, devious, naïve and determined. She is also possessed
of an inner radiance that perfectly matches the mood of the play.
support comes from Raymond Murray Sage as the son, disappointed in life but
determined that neither his mother nor his shrill, brittle wife (Alison
McKenna) should notice; Lucy Murphy as a young wife to whom Cassie unburdens
her life story; and Morgan Deare as a benevolent sheriff.
direction by Kenneth Hoyt doesn’t stint on sentimentality. It also adds some
clunky memory sequences, with the main part of the set being for ever trundled
around in circles, but this pays off in one touching moment when the older
Cassie encounters her youthful self across the years.
your taste is for raw, edgy, high-powered drama, this is not for you. But as a
human tale, simply told, it has an enduring and potent appeal.