‘The Outgoing Tide’ explores taking care of dying parents

- By Annie Alleman Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

A play about family and end-oflife care comes to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, helmed by a decorated Chicago director.

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, the profession­al, equity theater company in residence at the McAninch Arts Center, Feb. 1-March 3 presents “The Outgoing Tide” by Bruce Graham.

Performanc­es are at 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sunday at the McAninch Arts Center.

It is guest-directed by the

Jeff award-nominated Steve Scott, who is returning for his ninth production with Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. Scott served as producer at the Goodman Theatre for more than 30 years and is currently an artistic associate and board member.

His directing credits include “The Santaland Diaries,” “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” the world premiere of Tom Mula’s “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” and six editions of “A Christmas Carol.”

Even though the subject matter is dark, he was excited to direct “The Outgoing Tide.” It’s one he hasn’t worked on before.

“A few years ago, I just finished the job of taking care of both of my parents,” he said. “They both passed away about eight years ago. I am now in the phase of life where sometime in the not-too-distant future someone is probably going to have to take care of me.

“In some ways, it’s very

personal. There are a lot of instances in the play that resemble my life. I certainly empathize with all three of the characters. It’s a very moving story and I think at the end of the day, kind of a celebrator­y story — how do you keep control of your life until the very end.”

The story centers on an older couple who live in Maryland, on Chesapeake Bay. The father has Alzheimer’s Disease and it is progressin­g rather quickly. His wife of 50 years is trying to talk him into entering a care facility. His estranged son comes to visit and gets caught up in the discussion on his father’s end-of-life care.

“It’s an examinatio­n not only of what happens at this stage of your life but how you resolve old conflicts in your family, how you resolve relationsh­ips in your family as life is coming to an end for one of them,” he said. “It encapsulat­es lots of questions and struggles that I think every family has. How do you reconcile the past with the present?”

Although the play sounds sad, he promises it isn’t a complete downer. There are certainly moments of sadness in it but there is also a great deal of humor, he said.

“All three characters are very funny and express themselves through jokes and very clever ways,” he said. “Without giving away the end, the father is able to keep control of his life until the very end of his life, which is of paramount importance to us. Even though it is a bitterswee­t ending, there are tones of great happiness about it.”

The cast features Bryan Burke as the father Gunner, Connie Canaday Howard as the mother Peg and Nick DuFloth as the son, Jack.

“All three of them are wonderful actors I’ve worked with before at BTE,” he said. “Having worked with them all I kind of know how they work and it’s a lot easier to jump into a play with this kind of depth with actors I already know pretty well. We’ve had a great deal of fun working on it — it’s been extremely rewarding.”

He thinks audiences will enjoy the play because almost everyone will be able to relate to it, he said. Other people grapple with these situations and he hopes the play will help people feel less alone.

“It is as close to a universal play in many ways that I can think of,” he said. “I think the performanc­es are going to be terrific. I think all three actors are going to be really wonderful. It is very entertainm­ent but also has some good life lessons for us.”

There will be an ASL performanc­e at 8 p.m. Feb. 22.

 ?? BUFFALO THEATRE ENSEMBLE ?? Bryan Burke, from left, and Nick DuFloth star in Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s production of“The Outgoing Tide”from Feb. 1-March 3 at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
BUFFALO THEATRE ENSEMBLE Bryan Burke, from left, and Nick DuFloth star in Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s production of“The Outgoing Tide”from Feb. 1-March 3 at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

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