Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Terms of Endearment at Tacoma Little Theatre

review by Alec Clayton

Derek Mesford as Flap and Ana Bury-Quinn as
Emma, photo by Dennis K Photography

Run, drive, crawl to Tacoma Little Theatre to see Terms of Endearment—unless you’re not vaccinated; if you’re not vaccinated and masked, you can’t get in, and kudos to TLT for that.

I’m guessing that many of you are familiar with the story. The stage play is adapted by Dan Gordon from the novel by the great Larry McMurtry and the screenplay for the 1983 movie by James L. Brooks.

It is inevitable that the principal characters: Stephanie Leeper as Aurora, Ana Bury-Quinn as Emma, Scott C. Brown as Garett, and Derek Mesford as Flap Horton, will be compared with the screen actors in those roles: Shirley McClain, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson and Jeff Daniels. I kid you not, these actors are every bit as stunning in their roles as were their movie counterparts.

Stephanie Leeper as Aurora and Scott C. Brown
as Garrett, photo by Dennis K Photography

Women who have had a difficult love-hate relationship with her mother will relate to the bantering between Aurora and Emma, and anyone who has ever enjoyed a loveable rake such as the old astronaut Garrett, who is the over the hill astronaut, and a drunken seducer of young women will be wonderfully surprised at the rocky relationship between Aurora and Garrett.

Bury-Quinn plays Emma so naturally it seems she appears to be not acting at all but simply is Emma. In the opening scenes, Leeper seems not so natural as Aurora, but soon what seems to be strained acting is actually the visible proof of Aurora’s eccentricity. And then there’s infuriating and loveable Brown. Outside of Jack Nicholson there are few actors anywhere whose stage or screen presence is so dynamic and unforgettable. It is notable that Brown was equally outstanding as Randle McMurphy, another character played by Nicholson, in the 2008 performance of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at Lakewood Playhouse.

Director Blake R. York said in a program note that the script called for moving a lot of furniture around on stage and that he and Kathy Pingle, who was originally slated to direct, agreed that moving furniture would detract from the real crux of the play—relationships between people. The static set by York and his wife, Jen, works perfectly. The projected images on picture frames and windows adds just the right touch without being obtrusive.

Terms of Endearment flows easily from comedy to tearjerker. Bring handkerchiefs.


Terms of Endearment


7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m., Sunday through Sept. 26


Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. I Street, Tacoma


$27 Adults - $25 Students/Seniors/Military - $20 Children 12 & Under