×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mrs. Dexter and Her Daily

Static but engaging two-hander by Joanna McClelland Glass.

With:
Peggy Randall - Nicola Cavendish Edith Dexter - Fiona Reid

One woman has cleaned house for the other for a decade. This proximity would seem the only connection between the two, as their financial circumstances and every aspect of their backgrounds are totally different. So is the way they deal with their lot in life. This is the focus of “Mrs. Dexter and Her Daily,” the static but engaging two-hander by Joanna McClelland Glass (“Trying”) now world-premiering at the National Arts Center in Ottawa.

Peggy Randall (Nicola Cavendish) is a 65-year-old daily, or live-out housekeeper. She chats to the audience about her assorted aches and pains, her rough life and the crisis in her employer’s circumstances that is changing things for both of them. With characteristic pragmatism, she also makes it clear she is a survivor who will cope with the bad and enjoy any good through the remainder of her life.

Meanwhile, her boss, Edith Dexter (Fiona Reid), languishes in her backyard wearing her nightdress and housecoat, occasionally calling instructions to Peggy. When she appears onstage in act two, she also addresses the audience or talks to various others by phone. She recounts how her husband left her for her former best friend and neighbor, because he couldn’t stand “the sameness of the days” after retirement.

There’s good news and bad about the play’s structure. As the two women share the stage, the form is two hour-long monologues, broken only by brief offstage or telephone conversations.

In the hands of lesser actors, this could become tedious. But director Marti Maraden’s gentle guidance and the superb quality of the performances from Cavendish (as adept at doing physical comedy as she is at inhabiting her character) and Reid (searching for oblivion through alcohol or sleep) keep “Mrs. Dexter and Her Daily” involving. Audience members sing along, clap and even talk back, indicating an extraordinary level of identification that’s a tribute to playwright, director and performers.

Mention should also be made of designer Pam Johnson’s stylish kitchen set, warmly lit by Marsha Sibthorpe.

Like McClelland Glass’ widely traveled hit, “Trying,” her new play is likely to have numerous productions. Although this slice-of-life has comic aspects, at its core this is a drama about fear of growing old and being alone, something with which an aging population can certainly identify.

The script could use a little further tweaking (a graphic description of the killing and skinning of a rabbit could go), and cutting back a notch on Mrs. Dexter’s self-pity would make her less irritating. But, with or without changes, this looks like another success for the playwright.

Mrs. Dexter and Her Daily

National Arts Center, Ottawa; 1,000 seats; C$61 $58 top

Production: A National Arts Center English Theater/Arts Club Theater Company presentation of a play in two acts by Joanna McClelland Glass. Directed by Marti Maraden.

Creative: Sets, Pam Johnson; costumes; Phillip Clarkson; lighting, Marsha Sibthorpe. Opened, reviewed Feb. 19, 2010. Running time: 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast: Peggy Randall - Nicola Cavendish Edith Dexter - Fiona Reid

More Legit

  • Richard E Grant Everybody's Talking About

    Richard E. Grant to Play Former Drag Queen in 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie'

    Oscar-nominated actor Richard E. Grant will portray a former drag queen and mentor in “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” the movie adaptation of the British stage musical. “Catastrophe” co-creator and star Sharon Horgan and “Happy Valley” star Sarah Lancashire have also joined the film. Max Harwood will play the titular role of Jamie, a role inspired [...]

  • The Secret Life of Bees review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Secret Life of Bees'

    There’s a sweet sense of sisterhood that’s simply divine in “The Secret Life of Bees,” the heartwarming new musical at the Atlantic Theater Company based on Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling 2002 coming-of-age novel, set in South Carolina in 1964 amid Civil Rights struggles. (A 2008 film adaptation starred Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah.) The feeling [...]

  • 10 Comics to Watch

    Variety Announces 10 Comics to Watch for 2019

    Variety has chosen its 10 Comics to Watch for 2019. The honorees will be profiled in the July 18 issue of Variety and at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal at a cocktail party on Thursday, July 25, followed by a panel and showcase on Friday, July 26. The events are sponsored by Cohen & Gardner LLP. The [...]

  • Vanessa Hudgens So You Think You

    Vanessa Hudgens, Hailey Kilgore to Star in Reading of 'The Notebook' Musical

    Vanessa Hudgens and Tony-nominee Hailey Kilgore are joining an upcoming reading of Ingrid Michaelson’s stage adaptation of “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. Tony nominee Michael Greif is set to direct the reading, which will open June 23 at Vassar College’s Martel Theater as part of their Powerhouse Theater season. Kilgore will star as the younger [...]

  • Moulin Rouge director Alex Timbers

    'Beetlejuice,' 'Moulin Rouge!' Director Alex Timbers on Creating Worlds on Broadway

    In the past year, Alex Timbers has directed the Tony-nominated “Beetlejuice” and the stage adaptation of “Moulin Rouge!” (which begins previews June 28 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre). Here, he reflects on his most recent projects and the challenges of bringing two iconic movie musicals to Broadway within a year.  Both your musicals live in [...]

  • Actor Anthony Ramos Signs With Republic

    Actor Anthony Ramos Signs With Republic Records (EXCLUSIVE)

    Singer-songwriter and actor Anthony Ramos, known for his roles in “Hamilton” and “A Star Is Born,” has signed with Republic Records, the company announced today. Ramos will release his forthcoming debut album later this year, with new music expected this summer. Footage from the signing aired on his YouTube series today. “Anthony is a true [...]

  • Much Ado About Nothing review

    Shakespeare in the Park Review: Danielle Brooks in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

    The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park productions can be provocative, irritating, enlightening or maddening, but they are always fun. In his new staging of “Much Ado About Nothing” with a cast led by Danielle Brooks, director Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun,” “American Son”) delivers the fun in a slaphappy, dance-crazy version [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content