Director Cameron Watson sensitively handles the comedic and melancholic aspects of the story in equal measure. It is, however, Linden and Pickles' maturity as actors that elevates the play from soap opera to a realistic and strongly resonant depiction of the lives of these characters.
Linden is superb, as he captures the strength and frailty of this intelligent man facing his future. Pickles, too, subtly imbues Ethel with nuanced concern and optimism. Podany, Stewart, and Magrath deliver excellent performances in their secondary but essential roles as foils for Norman and Ethel's character exposition. Supporting player Jerry Kernion turns a humorous role as slightly dim Charlie, the Thayers' mailman, into a show-stealing, touching portrait of Chelsea's former teen boyfriend.
John Iacovelli's meticulously designed summer cottage, with properties design and set dressing by MacAndMe, is exceptional. Also creating lovely ambient lighting, including watery shadows during scene breaks, is Jared A. Sayeg's masterful design.
This production of Ernest Thompson's durable audience pleaser is lovely and poignant, but it has plenty of unexpected humor to counter the thematic end-of-life issues. The ensemble and Watson are winners.
Presented by and at the Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank. July 30–Aug. 28. Thu.–Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (818) 555-7000, ext. 15. www.colonytheatre.org.