Tuesdays with Morrie

Written by Mitch Albom
Directed by Susan Ferley
Performed by Drew Carnwath and Aron Tager
Grand Theatre, London
September 25 to October 9, 2004
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Even dying can be entertaining

London’s Grand Theatre has opened their new season with an excellent production of “Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie”. The play deals with death, without getting overly maudlin and, in fact, even offers a great deal of humour and good entertainment value. And without getting preachy, it leaves the audience with food for thought.

Mitch Albom, a popular syndicated sports columnist and ESPN commentator, wrote the best selling book “Tuesdays with Morrie”, published in 1997, about his experiences with a favourite professor, Morrie Schwartz. Later, Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher co-wrote the play. Credit goes to Director Susan Ferley (Artistic Director of the Grand) for giving life to the writers’ words, purely and poignantly, making a simple story memorable.

Drew Carnwath plays Mitch, and Aron Tager is Morrie. Both do an excellent job of carrying a two-person show, which is sometimes a difficult challenge. Tager is outstanding as the aging Morrie, who in his late 70’s learns he has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’). As the disease grows progressively worse, Tager changes with it, giving a very believable performance.

Carnwath and Tager are good together on stage. In particular, they seem to have the comedic timing down pat. The dialogue between the two men is very cleverly written and they deliver it well. The only criticism, and it’s a minor point, is that Carnwath seems to lose that easy, flowing delivery of his lines when Tager wasn’t on stage. Carnwath, as narrator, fills in the audience, explaining his thoughts, and on occasion, his monologues seemed slightly stilted.

Morrie is a favourite professor of young Mitch when he is in university, and likewise, Mitch is a favourite student of Morrie’s. The two get together on Tuesdays to talk about “love, work, aging, family, community, forgiveness…and death.” Mitch graduates, promises to keep in touch, but fails to do so. Then 16 years later, he learns that Morrie is very ill with ALS, and decides to look up his old professor. He continues to visit every Tuesday until Morrie dies, learning how to take time away from his workaholic lifestyle. Through his death, Morrie teaches Mitch a great deal about living.

Young and old audience members can relate to the appropriate character and come away entertained, and also a little wiser.

“Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie” runs through to October 9. Tickets are available at the Grand Theatre box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593.


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