Austin has spent his entire life convinced that something terrible is bound to happen to him. One night, at a party, he has the pleasure of rekindling a romance begun almost thirty years ago with Ruth. Comically, and sometimes painfully, these two people rediscover each other and themselves while a bevy of free-spirited other guests rally behind them and remind them of the infinite possibilities that life holds, should one only choose to pursue them.
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What would you do if you were given a second chance? A real chance to recapture something wonderful that you’d let slip away long ago? Would you be brave enough to take it? Would you be willing to risk everything for a chance at the happiness you once might have had? These are some of the questions facing Austin, the stoic middle-aged Boston banker at the center of A.R. Gurney’s Later Life, a warm-hearted comedy opening soon at Glenview’s Oil Lamp Theater.
We first meet Austin (Henry Odum) on the terrace of an apartment overlooking Boston Harbor. He’s taking a break from a crowded dinner party when he’s unexpectedly re-introduced to Ruth (Julie Partyka), a charming woman with whom he had a brief romantic encounter many years earlier. Austin soon discovers that Ruth, a multiple divorcee, not only clearly remembers her long-ago attraction to him, but she may also now be trying to get out of her current bad marriage.
What to do? Fear of change is nothing new to Austin. Throughout his life he’s been plagued by the anxiety that “a terrible thing” would one day happen to him. His first instinct in most situations is to pull back into his WASP-ish reserve, to protect himself from anything that might bring on this undefined calamity. But this sudden encounter with this woman from his past is something new. Ruth, he discovers, is sensitive, lovely, and readily able to pierce his protective shell. Soon, the spark that flared between them so long ago seems to re-ignite. But is Austin capable of change?
This romantic tale of lost opportunities and hope for new beginnings unfolds while a delightfully eclectic mix of party guests (all played by Ed Kuffert and Claudia Garrison) buzz around the couple, encouraging their hopes and reminding them of all that life can offer if only you’re willing to seize it.
Come join the party at Glenview’s Oil Lamp Theater for a warm and funny evening that will also offer real insight into the perils, for those “of a certain age,” of confronting what might be a final opportunity for happiness. In the words of Jim, one of Later Life’s party guests, “Younger people can change their minds, change their lives, that’s fine. They have a lifetime ahead of them to change again. But for us who have had a whiff of the grave it all boils down to our last chance.”
The performance runs 2 hours including intermission.
Later Life Cast and Crew
Director- Barbara J. Anderson
Stage Manager- Nicole Szontagh