There is a wonderful piece of life on the stage at the smaller theater at The Spire, this weekend.
''Tuesdays With Morrie'' by Jeffery Hatcher and Mitch Albom is based on a set of real-life encounters between Albom and Morrie Schwartz, his favorite college professor. The professor is suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease, an always fatal ailment which methodically robs the patient of his ability to live his life, before it takes the life, itself.
In this case, the dying professor turns his weekly visits from his former student into a class for one, on how to live, as well as how to die.
The play is very sad, obviously, yet it is also very happy. The playwrights make obvious that even those of us who aren't cursed by this terrible disease, do the same things to ourselves. We don't dance because we might look ridiculous if we danced. We don't sing, we don't touch one another, we don't ask for favors others might be perfectly willing to do for us. We give away the things which make us live, because we are self conscious about needing them, and then there's nothing left to do, but die.
The production opened Thursday evening, in a benefit performance for Chautauqua Hospice. There were some awkward moments and some opening night jitters, as the two men are on stage and talking, through the entire play. But, the interaction between the two actors was obvious, and was truly touching.
Adam Hughes portrayed the young sportswriter, daring not only to visit a former teacher whom he has neglected for many years, but to continue going back, even when it meant that ambitious young writers were snapping up the stories he was leaving undone to visit Morrie. Hughes was wonderfully real, very open, both with the actor playing his teacher, and with the audience.
Ron Robertson had the very difficult chore, instead of building to a climax, as a normal actor's duty is, but rather to visibly weaken and to allow himself to become clouded and uncertain, and yet to shine through the fog. It was a masterful performance, indeed.
Robert John Terreberry directed the play, allowing a great deal of natural interaction and maintaining interest despite a significant lack of action on the stage.
It was a very fine evening of theater, and I hope you catch one of its remaining performances, tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., at the Spire, directly across Third Street from the post office.