MacLeod's latest work, Another Home Invasion, is no exception; depicting the fear, isolation, and vulnerability felt among many elderly women as they struggle to preserve their strength and identity as mothers and wives. As the one-woman one-act play opens, we meet Jean, an eighty-year old lady who shares a home with her husband, Alec. As Alec's dementia worsens; so does the couple's chances of entering into their dream retirement home. Although the audience is never formally introduced to Alec or any other characters described by Jean, playwright MacLeod offers a literary canvas with which Jean is able to verbally paint those who surround her.
Serving as the artist to Echo Theatre Company's remarkable production of Another Home Invasion is actress (and KDHX staff volunteer) Donna Weinsting, whose performance as Jean transcends above and beyond to scope of acting and ventures into a place where she transforms into our mothers and grandmothers. The true strength of Weinsting's performance lies with her ability to connect with her audience, where she not only welcomes us to watch and listen, but to join her character's emotional journey.
Directing the St. Louis debut of Another Home Invasion is Echo Theatre Company's artistic director, Eric Little. The strength in partnership between director and actress is evident in this production, with consistently strong character choices delivered by Weinsting throughout. Although the actress is seated for most of the play, Little's strong direction coupled with MacLeod's remarkable writing transport Weinsting and her audience from one imaginary setting to another with ease.
The only minor pitfall to this otherwise outstanding production was the erroneous lighting, designed by Maureen Hanratty. At various moments throughout the play, lights would curiously dim or glow, making it questionable whether or not such cues were intentional. While this proved only slightly disruptive, actress Weinsting's strong and focused performance kept the show on its strong, steady course.
While some playwrights create work that distract from the harsh realities of life, others, such as Joan MacLeod, rip off the masking tape to reveal some of the harsh bitter truths of modern day life. With her play, Another Home Invasion, MacLeod not only reminds us to be nice to our mothers and grandmothers, but to consider how we, as a society, regard those whom we owe much respect and gratitude.