“I didn’t feel like I could fix things so I checked out,” said Bill, the character played by Alex Morris.
He was talking about what had happened in the marriage after the couple’s son had died of an diagnosed heart condition. The wife, Viola, played by Denise Dowse went through the gamut of emotions, including guilt, resentment and loss without the feeling of true support from her husband, Bill.
As a result, a 35 year marriage goes down the drain after years of suffering silently. For a decade after the son’s death it is implied that Viola and Bill acted out hurt feelings that drowned out love and devotion until Bill just couldn’t take it anymore; citing that love was replaced with anger and disgust for one another and that it was too late to fix the marriage.
The characters portrayed a common scenario in relationships across the county; the end of a marriage. Their story line was filled with issues that plague marriages, including the lost of a child, and also trouble with communication, displaced anger and parental issues stemming from childhood. (Watch cast interviews including Kellita Smith and special guest Loretta Devine below)
In step with the reality of prevalent divorce rates, “Three Times a Lady” opens with a divorce scene. The end starts the beginning of a journey and the remainder of the play acts out the stages that the couple goes through, with focus on the wife, Viola, played by Denise Dowse, as they close out a major chapter in their lives while trying to figure things out for themselves and working towards healing.
As we settle in to the plays rhythm we find that, Viola has a hard time accepting her husband’s proposal for divorce and is found battling with drunkenness, depression, psychotic episodes and finally she gains acceptance and understanding.
Through it all she has the support of her friends, Rose, played by Kellita Smith and best friend Wanda, played by Karen Bankhead.
The drama, because of the serious subject matter is a Comedy- drama as we witness a fun interchange between the friends Viola, Rose and Wanda; think of the television series “The Golden Girls” and think not quite, but there is certainly a similar fun exchange between the three.
“If you love him, let him go.” the character Wanda says to Viola. As she thinks of something wise to say and then, in a good witch of the north voice, spews the old cliché, with a fun witted twist. “… And if he doesn’t come back ~ Stalk him.”
When Wanda, the new age, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo chanting type suggests that Viola gets help, Viola meets Dr. Stevens played by Derek Shaun who takes her on a journey that ultimately brings her back to her center when she learns to ‘bury her pain.’
Initally, Dr. Stevens discovers that Viola believes she’s been hurt by all of the men in her life; her son for dying, her husband for neglect, her father for neglect, too and even God for taking her son.
Later, Viola learns how to look within and to work on herself. She discovers that everyone is hurting. With the doctors help, Viola learns to look more closely for her role in her own unhappiness and she learns to let go and forgive.
Rose, played by Kellita Smith is a vivacious, sexually liberated career woman who reminds us of the character Sandra in the hit television series “227,” played by Jackée Harry. She advises Viola to go out and get a man and offers her a large purple vibrating dildo.
“The play was wonderful, Denise Dowse was incredible, Kellita Smith incredible, the new young lady; the other young lady – I don’t know her name, [Karen Bankhead] but she was so funny. I had a great time,” Loretta Devine said.
In the end, “Three Times a Lady” seemed a success in its delivery, and in its depiction of trouble in the family, the consequences of brokenness and then ultimately solutions for healing.
About the set:
The set was believable, it was staged in the ‘living room’ of the couple’s home and attempted to represent an upper middle class scale of living. Though there was consistent prop trouble, through out the play; with the door not closing, the design added a warm setting for the drama. All the scenes were played out in the one room. The psychologist, Dr. Stevens even made his house calls to see Viola there.
After the play
At the plays conclusion playwright, Dr. Morrow offered support to audience members suffering with pain that they’d like to ‘bury.’ She promised that someone would get back to anyone who reached out for support by filling out a purple slip embedded in the plays program.
According to the American Psychological Association, who says divorce is just as common as marriage; about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States end in divorce.
“We believe that we are telling a story that can change lives,” Dr. Gloria Morrows said.
Dr. Morrow is a clinical psychologist with expertise on topics including depression, anxiety, marriage and relationship issues and on a variety of subjects relative to people of color from all ethnic backgrounds.
Watch after the show footage/cast interviews
“Three Times a Lady” after the play ~BJ’s Gallery Jan. 8, 2015