Sunday, September 27, 2020


Kathryn Walker, Leora Dana, Donald Symington.

MOURNING PICTURES [Drama/Death/Family/Illness] A: Honor Moore; D: Kay Carney; S: John Jacobsen; C: Whitney Blausen; L: Spencer Mosse; M: Susan Ain; P: Samuel B. Schwartz in the Lenox Arts Center/Music Theatre Performing Group Production; T: Lyceum Theatre; 11/10/74 (1)

Maggie (Leora Dana), a woman of 50, suffers from terminal liver cancer. She is the wife of a minister (Donald Symington) and the mother of nine, one an acclaimed poet (Kathryn Walker). During a six-month period, her family watches her gradually succumb and pass away.

This somber, semi-autobiographical account by American poet and memoirist Honor Moore, then 29, and still active today, lacked sufficient dramatic merit, Moore having failed to go beyond her personal involvement in the situation to raise the subject to a more meaningful and artistically worthy plane. The play was viewed as a confrontation by the writer with a painful experience for which she was unable to “indicate the and inner rhythms and patterns of survival and offer insights on death,” opined Clive Barnes. A playwright, argued Brendan Gill, “must not induce suffering in us unless it can be made fruitful.”

Part of this production involved seven “plaintive but irreverent” songs, as Barnes called them, sung to Moore’s lyrics by Dorothea Joyce (“a singularly shrill singer,” according to John Simon). Mixed reactions greeted the acting and direction. The company mourned the show’s passing after a single performance.