“Love Alone,” a moving tale about dealing with grief by Deborah Salem Smith, Trinity’s playwright-in-residence, is getting an outstanding production as the third new play in Trinity’s “Three by Three in Rep.”
The play deals with the unexpected death of a 48-year-old woman during a routine operation and the effect it has on her daughter, her lesbian partner of 20 years, her anesthesiologist and her husband.
Anne Scurria plays Helen, the grieving partner who is devastated by the “bad outcome” of the operation, as told to her by a by-the-book bereavement counselor and left holding the bag of her partner’s personal items. Janice Duclos plays double duty as a counselor and a nurse.
Equally distraught is their daughter, Clementine (Conservatory student Leah Anderson), who shows her pent-up anger while trying to find out “what happened?”
The death also has a shocking effect on Becca, the young anesthesiologist (Angela Brazil) and her husband (Mauro Hantman). There are some very tense scenes between the two as they try to deal with her situation.
When Helen decides to sue, the situation becomes a bit complicated, bringing out a variety of feelings, anxieties and reactions. She hires a lawyer (Richard Donelly), who reluctantly reviews the case, eventually cross-examining the doctor in a tense scene that raises a variety of questions.
Salem Smith has written a tight script that is very balanced, raising questions of blame, while concentrating more on the effect that the death has on all involved.
Ironically, the Rhode Island legislature is currently considering the “I’m sorry” bill, where doctors can admit mistakes without fear of reprisal.
The play raises other questions, including the rights of a partner in a lawsuit and the roles of the operating team. It also deals with the pressures placed on the doctor’s spouse as the doctor deals with the guilt of losing her first patient.
There are no easy answers to the many issues raised by this insightful play. It leaves the characters with a sense of regret, and after dealing with those seven stages of grief a way of accepting and forgiving.
This all sounds a bit heavy, and it is. The author has managed to interject some humor to relieve the incredible tension that builds. There are residual damages to every person involved, and reaching the point of acceptance and forgiveness is a difficult journey.
Salem Smith and the excellent cast are able to bring us along without being maudlin and biased and leaving us with a feeling of closure and acceptance.
“Love Alone” is at Trinity in repertory with “Sparrow Gras” and “The Mourner’s Bench” through May 27. All three plays are well written and acted and well worth your time and money. Call 351-4242 for reservations.