Broadway World: “Remarkable performances” in Remembrance

It is always said that a parent should never have to deal with the death of their child. In 1988 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant parents were dealing with the death of their children on a daily basis for no other reason than their religion, political affiliation, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Such is the setting in “Remembrance” by Graham Reid, directed by Tim Byron Owen and produced by David Hunt Stafford, presented by Theatre 40, a professional theatre company based on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, through April 21 in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. The cast includes (in alphabetical order) Diana Angelina, Alice Cutler, Christine Joëlle, Elizabeth Lande, Johnny O’Callaghan, and Mik Scriba.

“Remembrance” is set in a town in Northern Ireland during the period known as “The Troubles.” Bert (Mik Scriba), a Protestant, and Theresa (Diana Angelina), a Catholic, are both in their sixties and have both lost sons during the turmoil. Visiting the local cemetery to mourn their respective offspring, they meet and, however improbably, fall in love. Scriba and Angelina give remarkable performances, letting us see into their “just ordinary” characters hearts and souls, their happiness and deep sadness as they attempt to deal with their relationship in the aftermath of their sons’ deaths.

How simple, and sweet, and even lovely it might all be for these seniors were it not for the fact that their angry, bitter adult children are so thoroughly scandalized by it: A Protestant man and a Catholic woman, each with slain sons, falling in love? They cannot accept it and do their best to tear the loving seniors apart.

The fact is, none of the kids have what would pass for a good, healthy love life. Bert’s surviving son, Victor (Johnny O’Callaghan) is a cop with a drinking problem that leads him into the arms of too many wrong women. The one good woman he managed to marry, Jenny (Elizabeth Lande), now wants nothing to do with Victor and his womanizing ways. But she manages to stay in his presence as she takes care of Bert and his home, where Victor also lives so he can remain close to her. O’Callaghan and Lande allow us to glimpse their heat, and O’Callaghan’s reaction when he walks in on Bert and Theresa kissing on the couch is priceless!

Theresa’s two surviving daughters are no better. Joan (Alice Cutler) is a nervous wreck ex-Nurse now caring for her mother’s home to fill her hours. Love seems to be the farthest thing from her mind and her life. On the other hand, sexually frustrated Deirdre (the fabulous Christine Joëlle), now stuck caring for 3 small children with a husband in jail, mourns her lack of male companionship and longs to rebuild her life. Her jealousy when she realizes her mother has found love when she can’t throws her into a tailspin, and Joëlle’s gut-wrenching performance will tear at your heartstrings.

Can the love Bert and Theresa have found surmount the obstacles placed in their path by their own children? Or perhaps the love of this aging couple might be so redemptive that it may save the younger ones, too. “Remembrance” is a very special love story that you, too, will long remember.