The Trip to Bountiful


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The Trip to Bountiful

Directed by Joann Montemurro

At Raven Theatre, Chicago

Tour de force performance by Millicent Hurley Spencer fuels The Trip to Bountiful

Horton Foote’s masterpiece, The Trip to Bountiful  was first a live teleplay in 1953 for The Philco Television Playhouse starring Lillian Gish. It was expanded and mounted on Broadway in late 1953 and it was made into a film in 1985 garnering an Oscar for Geraldine Page. In the Raven Theatre’s production, now playing, Millicent Hurley Spencer plays the lead – Mrs. Carrie Watts. . Spencer’s deeply emotional and truthful performance as Mrs. Watts is filled with subtle nuances that only a talented veteran actor can produce.  We instantly empathize with her character. Millicent plays the elderly character with a combination of physical and emotional pain as well as an independent stubborn streak.  She is funny yet defiant; determined yet obedient. Her fierce independence to return to her homeland consumes her.

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 Horton Foote is know as the Chekhov of American local color writers as he pens works featuring ordinary folks in rural setting struggling with the realities of change that threatens the tranquility of small town life. He isn’t sentimental nor does he gloss over the cruelty of life. Rather he realistically tells life–affirming stories. The Trip to Bountiful may be his finest work.

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In The Trip to Bountiful, set in the early 1950’s, we meet Mrs. Carrie Watts who hates living in Houston in a three room apartment with her son, Ludie (Michael Boone) and his self-center wife, Jessie Mae (Eleanor Katz). Carrie can’t sleep as she suffers from a suffocating unhappy existence away from her roots. The twenty years living in Houston only makes her yearn for her small town of Bountiful just off the gulf coast of East Texas. Carrie hates being dependent on her son, Ludie, himself a failed businessman and sickly weak soul. Jessie Mae is the bossy dominant head of the household who drives Carrie to try to escape. Foote effectively presents real people whose lives are filled with failed hopes and unfulfilled dreams.

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Carrie tells about how she was never allowed to marry her true love as both he and she married others. Finally, Carrie escapes from her room and travels to Bountiful. Along the way, she befriends Thelma (Jen Short), a young newlywed filled with hope for the future. We see Carrie’s trip back to a dead town as her journey rekindles her memories. She is invigorated with the sky, the birds and the smells of rural land. She gains solace and a new understanding with her son as they put aside much of their pain from the past.

 Millicent Hurley Spencer anchors a marvelous cast that features terrific work from Eleanor Katz as the selfish daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. Michael Boone’s Ludie  offered excellent work. Larry Carani as the Sheriff gave nice supporting performances. But The Trip To Bountiful absolutely belongs to Millicent Hurley Spencer—she gave a memorable performance. her performance is one of the finest performances of the year. Get to Raven Theatre to experience a terrific play and an excellent performance.. The trip to Raven Theatre will be bountiful.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Jeff Recommended

 For more info checkout The Trip to Bountiful page at

At Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, Chicago,, tickets $36, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2hours, 20 minutes with 2 intermissions, through November 17, 2013

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