Michele Popadich – The Trinity River Plays

February 15, 2011 in Cindy Bandle Young Critics by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

The Trinity River Plays by Michele Popadich

“The Trinity River Plays” is a compilation of three individual plays by Regina Taylor creating a masterpiece of emotion, growth, and a deep analysis of life. The plays follow Iris and her struggle to find her own voice, her interactions with members of her family, and her journey for inner peace.

Although rather lengthy, “The Trinity River Plays” couldn’t sacrifice a moment of its three hours without sacrificing the impact it has on its viewers. The meticulously detailed stage is beautifully crafted, establishing a home that Iris can identify with as well as presenting the audience with a piece of art that matches the magnificence of the performance. It has the appeal and warmth of a home as well as floral detail that is both visually pleasing as well as a significant theme. The authenticity of the Texan home is a wonderful backbone of the play without distracting the audience from the performance.

Regina Taylor’s collection of three distinct plays magnifies the uniqueness of each while composing a trilogy in which each play supports one another. Initially three individual plays, “Jar Fly,” Rain,” and “Ghoststory,” follow Iris, illustrating important events in her life that contribute to her growth. In “Jar Fly” Iris has just turned seventeen years old in the late 1970’s. She strives to find her own voice, while being impacted by her high school drop out cousin Jasmine and her loving Aunt Daisy. Her independence drives her to succeed but also separates her from her family. “Jar Fly” had the biggest influence on me. Each actor proved that in one hour, they could leave a powerful impression on the audience with intense emotion. By the end, Iris has a new outlook on life but has grown all too quickly. “Jar Fly” shows a pivotal event in Iris’s life. But it also paves the way for a time change in which we meet Iris again seventeen years later.

As a 34-year old woman, she has become successful but is alienated from her own mother. “Rain” highlights the conflicts between two generations of women, mostly mother and daughter relationships. While Iris struggles with her relationship with her mother and the separation from her husband, the discovery of her mother’s cancer brings new troubles to the family. It tests their strength to unite and introduces wonderfully delicate moments between Iris and Rose. Penny Johnson Jerald perfects the second act with her impeccable execution of a struggling cancer patient.

“Ghoststory” shows Iris’s struggle to find peace with everything that has happened to her as her history comes back to haunt her. “Ghoststory” ends the piece wonderfully by bringing the focus back to Iris and her effort to move forward in life. Each story plays a pivotal role in engaging the audience and revealing the layers of Taylor’s deep characters. The relationships are complicated and emotional, but Taylor has a profound way of bringing the characters back to their roots and bringing the women back together. You are also given some insight on the playwright who used events in her life as inspiration for this piece.

Karen Aldridge does an amazing job of playing Iris as a driven teenager and successful 34-year old woman; she stays true to the character while illustrating the tremendous growth Iris experiences in short periods of time. But Aldridge is not alone in receiving praise. Every member of the cast overwhelmed me with their ability to tell their unique stories and make me laugh, cry, and think. The performance truly gives the audience a memory to walk away with.