Wednesday, March 2, 2011

‘Gin Game’ is more than playing cards

Play handles subject of aging

Express Staff Writer

The Royal Larkspur Play Troupe will present “The Gin Game” by D.L. Coburn at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on March 3-4. Courtesy photo

"The Gin Game" is a classic play about two seniors, Weller and Fonsia, who arrive at a nursing home and are dissatisfied with life. Weller offers to teach Fonsia how to play the card game gin rummy. The two begin playing a series of games that Fonsia always wins. Weller's inability to win a single hand becomes increasingly frustrating to him, while Fonsia becomes increasingly confident.

J.D. Ryan, who plays the role of Weller, and JoEllen Collins, who plays the role of Fonsia, will perform in two productions of "The Gin Game" at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum on Thursday, March 3, and Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m. The performance is free. The production is in partnership with the Senior Connection and the Wood River Hospice.

"It's an acknowledged classic," said director Garry Hoffman. "On the surface it's about gin, but only symbolically. The gin game is a subplot of conflict."

Hoffman said the play is about being a basic person. He also said it's about coming to a nursing home and acknowledging life.

"It's not a happy play," he said. "Eventually we are going to wind up old. We might as well begin to start cutting some slack for those people in life who are not at an advantage to have things turn out for them as they retire."

Hoffman said he wanted to do the play because of his experience living at a nursing home in Chicago when he was in medical school.

"It's a must-see because there are so few plays that deal with aging—70-plus aging," he said.

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