Review: Detroit Examiner, Part 2

This continues a two-part review of the two-part staging of The Cider House Rules, adapted by Peter Parnell from the novel by John Irving, which just opened at the Hilberry Theatre and runs in repertory through May 14.

Patty Nolan

Detroit Theater Examiner

To read the Part One review, click here.

The Cider House Rules, Part II: In Other Parts of the World picks up with the story of Homer Wells as he makes a place for himself in the world with his new friends, Wally and Candy, and learns to be of use at the apple orchard. Hungry for life’s experiences, but equipped only with an orphan’s view of the world, Homer discovers that friendship and love have unexpected complications as his best friend Wally is sent off to war and Homer falls passionately for Wally’s girl, Candy. Passion leads to pregnancy and a return to the orphanage at St. Cloud’s.  Ultimately, Homer has to choose whether or not to resume his mentor’s work – even though aspects of it fall outside the law and outside the delicacies of his own conscience.

As the name of this work gently suggests, The Cider House Rules is about ‘the rules;’ it’s about the rules that matter and the rules that don’t matter. It’s about the ‘official’ rules and the ‘real’ rules that people don’t talk about but that govern their lives. It’s about what’s right, what’s wrong, and the choices we make in the circumstances we’re given.

The wonderful thing about the Irving novel and, by extension, this play, is that for all the grim topics it covers, it remains essentially a story about love – and how the love of another can help someone grow to become their better self. As Dickens’ David Copperfield might put it, a number of the characters in this book become ‘the hero of their own stories,’ chiefly, Homer Wells.

This Hilberry production brings all the love and beauty of Irving’s novel to the stage.  The 22-member cast breathes authenticity into a world of characters you come to know and care about. If you are a fan of the book or even of the film – or if you simply enjoy storytelling at its finest – you essentially have two options. Book your tickets now and make sure you see both parts of this play, or hire someone to kick you later.

The shows run in repertory through May 14, 2011.  Tickets are $25-$30 for each part, and can be seen on successive nights or as part of Saturday matinee and evening performance marathon. Local restaurateurs have been forewarned, so it is entirely possible to see Part One, digest it along with a good meal, and then return for Part Two. Due to the production’s epic scope, evening performances will begin at 7:00 p.m. and matinee performances at 1:00 p.m.

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