12/2/2013 2:02 PM
We did this at our high school for a competition piece. The students learned a great deal about themselves and their characters through the process of working with this script. It is an excellent play to expand the talents of young actors. They added a great deal of their own flair to the characters as we progressed. Fun to do and funny to watch, it has some tissue alert moments as well. Highly recommended!
4/21/2013 11:04 PM
There are strains of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth in The Juice of Wild Strawberries. Ellie, who is alive, can’t see her dead husband, Calvin, who is following her. But the two can talk to one another. These characters were married for over forty years. A fascinating premise is set up, and sadly it only skims the surface.
The plot is simple: Ellie wants to climb a mountain. She wants an adventure. She wants to move forward. She literally wants to overcome her grief. Calvin wants her to stay at home, where he feels she belongs. The past and present mingle as Ellie eventually receives Calvin’s blessing to go.
An interesting thought that unfortunately isn’t truly mined in the short span of the play is Ellie’s sanity. Is she talking to herself? Alas, there appears to be little cost in Ellie’s conversations with her dead husband. The tempo of the play feels a bit too fast for the subject matter. In my opinion, there are far too few silences scored for sorrow.
The most exciting moments in the play are when the two almost touch. The physical space between the two allows the audience to see the ache of Ellie, and witness her loneliness. Grief is visualized in those powerful moments. The play cracks open when Calvin finally is able to kiss Ellie; it’s an incredibly satisfying and earned moment.
Unfortunately, these beautiful moments regarding touch are only moments. With Calvin so present and so against Ellie’s adventure, you have to wonder at times why Ellie even misses her controlling and conservative husband. The play’s ending is overly extended when suddenly the couple directly address the audience about applause. The Juice of Wild Strawberries, which sounds so exceptional, ends as a saccharine short play.