Come Back, Little Sheba

By William Inge

Directed by Geoff Elliott & Julia Rodriguez-Elliott

Mar 29 - May 17, 2014

Critics Choice

“An American classic, taken to new heights.”-Los Angeles Times
“Stunning. A treasure worth celebrating!” -Stage Struck

At a time when the pace of American life was not so rapid, a middle-aged couple, awash in the what-ifs and drifting apart, takes in a young, vivacious college boarder, creating an explosive catalyst for change. After half a century, William Inge’s contemporary masterpiece remains compelling and deeply resonant.

The play is set in the mid-20th century in a Midwestern town. Married for some twenty years, Doc and Lola live in a neglected house in a run-down neighborhood.
Doc, a chiropractor, is a withdrawn, quiet and somewhat prudish man, and a diligent and determined member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Lola is a sweet woman of middle age, eager for her husband’s affection and some purpose in life. She and Doc have no children and as he does not want her to work, Lola spends most of her time alone, too disheartened to even care for her house. Lola is naturally gregarious and when she has company, she is vivacious and given to talking about the past: how she was a popular beauty queen in high school; how Doc was even more shy and sexually inexperienced than she was when they started going together; how she became pregnant and they had to marry quickly and, consequently, Doc was forced to abandon his dream of being a physician; how they lost their child and Lola became infertile; how Doc became “sick” (as Lola describes his alcoholism) and lost his inheritance.
Unlike Lola, Doc is uneasy with his memories, and urges her “to live for the present.” Much of Lola’s present is focused upon Marie, a carefree young college student who is boarding in the house and whose love life fascinates and delights Lola. Marie is engaged to a young man back in her home town but is dating Turk, a caddish college jock, with whom she has a clearly sexual rather than romantic relationship. Lola cannot resist helping the young couple find time alone together—or spying on them when they are.
Doc, too, is fascinated with Marie and infatuated with the young woman he thinks of as “decent,” innocent and pure. And he is extremely jealous of and hostile toward Turk. Lola comes to life when she learns that Marie’s fiancé Bruce is going to visit; she cleans and
renovates the house and plans a lavish dinner for the couple. However, on the morning of the dinner Doc suddenly discovers—or for the first time fully realizes—that the “decent” Marie and Turk have been having sex. Heartbroken and stunned, Doc leaves, taking with him the whiskey he keeps to test his commitment to sobriety. Bruce, an affluent, snobbish youth, is scornful of Lola’s efforts to entertain, but far more disturbing is Doc’s failure to come home for the dinner. Fearing the worst, Lola calls Doc’s AA sponsor, Ed Anderson. But the truth exceeds Lola’s fears, and in the ferocious confrontation that follows, the couple is forced to face the disappointments that threaten their marriage.

SOURCE: CenterTheatreGroup.org/education

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