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BWW Review: THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA at Torrance Theatre Company

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continues its live-stream Play-At-Home Series

BWW Review: THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA at Torrance Theatre Company

Torrance Theatre Company continues its Play-At-Home Series with a live-stream of Mark Dunn's newest play, THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA, directed by Cary Jordahl and featuring Allison Boettcher, Melody Cohen, Aaron Drake, Claire Griswold, and Diana Mann.

It's the story of septuagenarian Althea Witlin, who has one jigsaw puzzle among her large collection that she's never worked. It contains 3,000 pieces and now she has less than a day to finish it, because poor health has forced her to move in with her younger sister Ina - without being able to take her beloved puzzles with her. How can she possibly give up her favorite pastime for the rest of her life?

But when Leif shows up to check out Althea's house, which is for sale, BWW Review: THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA at Torrance Theatre Companyhis mutual love of puzzles convinces him to stay and help her complete the 3,000 piece PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA before her sister shows up the next day to assist in moving Althea out. Diana Mann and Aaron Drake realistically bring the two characters together, allowing their natural similarities and mutual respect to develop into the type of easy-going friendship we all crave, especially right now.

Also dropping on in on a regular basis is her neighbor Mattie (Claire Griswold with her hair in braids to appear more youthful), a young woman and former group home resident BWW Review: THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA at Torrance Theatre Companywho now faces her own challenges living alone. But thanks to Althea, Mattie is learning how to control her lack of impulse control in order to not say or reveal too much all the time. Leif finds her outlook on life very refreshing, enjoying how Mattie always announces the square root of any number which happens to come up in conversation. And the three are soon sharing their deepest secrets, fears and hopes for the future while searching for the perfect puzzle piece to put in its correct place.

BWW Review: THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA at Torrance Theatre CompanyAlong the way we learn that Leif's wife Connie (Allison Boettcher) has been visiting with her sister after receiving some rather upsetting news. When she decides to stop off and join her husband at Althea's to look at the house, Connie soon discovers her own love of puzzles, which allows her resilient spirit to shine through her pain. These four kindred strangers go on to chat about love, marriage, the nature of evil, and which people from history each would invite to their "dream" dinner party. Their choices reveal a lot about each of them and spark many interesting conversations.

BWW Review: THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA at Torrance Theatre CompanyBy the time the next afternoon arrives and the puzzle is not yet completed, Ina (Melody Cohen) shows up to help Althea move out of her house. But when she notices the fun the others are having with the puzzle as it nears completion, Ina reluctantly sits down and joins in with The New Group of friends. And by the end of the play when Leif and Connie announce their plans for Althea's house, all of their lives are about to change for the better!

BWW Review: THE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA at Torrance Theatre CompanyTHE PUZZLE WITH THE PIAZZA is a gentle, bittersweet comedy about the fragility of family ties, and the often much stronger bonds of friendship that lattice the final years of our lives. Originally aired on Sunday, September 20, the play will also be available to watch online for 24 hours on Sunday, September 27. Tickets are $20 per household, available at www.torrancetheatrecompany.com. I hope you will consider joining in for some laughs, a few tears, and a lovely story about caring for one another. And don't forget to sign up for rest of the Torrance Theatre Company's Play-At-Home Series!

Online performance screenshots taken by Shari Barrett


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From This Author Shari Barrett