BWW Review: PAPERMAKER at Penobscot Theatre - Bangor, ME
The play is set in the small, fictional town of Abbott Falls, Maine. It follows two families on both sides of a strike at the town's paper mill. Ernie Donahue (James Herrera) is a retired millworker who is building a replica of Noah's Ark on the family's front lawn as a gift for his wife Marie (A.J. Mooney), who is battling cancer. Their son Jake (Daniel Kennedy) is a laid-off millworker who is doing everything he can to survive while supporting his wife and daughter. The Donahues take in the McCoys after they are attacked by protestors at the mill. Henry McCoy (Doug Meswarb) is the CEO of the company that owns the mill who is on a road trip with his estranged daughter, Emily (Emily Shain).
"This town and these characters are fictional," Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport explained, "but Wood's story rings true. With great humor and sensitivity, she has captured the humanity at the heart of the changes with which Maine communities are grappling."
The set, designed by Chez Cherry, reflected the play's theme by being centered around the Donahue family's home where most of the action takes place. The Donahues and the McCoys must put aside their differences in order to survive the difficult situation they've been placed in. The contemporary setting and theme of the play are what make it relatable to the audience members who are currently living through the economic crisis created by recent mill closures in the nearby towns of Bucksport and Millinocket.
In light of these situations, "Papermaker" encourages its audience to face challenges that come their way during this season of their lives, even if it means putting aside one's differences to help others in need. I would recommend this play to all Mainers who have been affected by current mill closures and community members who want to learn how to better support each other. For more information about this production or to purchase tickets, you may visit the Penobscot Theatre's website at penobscottheatre.org or call them at 207-942-3333.
Photo Credit: Magnus Stark