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PLAY TITLE: On Golden Pond
AUTHOR: Ernest Thompson
Overall: ★★★★★ (4.75)
A comedy for a cast of 3 men, 2 women, 1 boy. This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory-but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. The boy quickly becomes the “grandchild” the elderly couple have longed for, and as Norman revels in taking his ward fishing and thrusting good books at him, he also learns some lessons about modern teenage awareness-and slang-in return. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.
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MY 2 CENTS:
On Golden Pond is a classic. The way that Thompson brings these characters to live is simply beautiful. It’s about life, relationships, and the heart.
I love when an author like Thompson can take a simple story, a retired couple spending the summer at their lake house, and turn it into so much more. By the end of the script, you’re emotionally attached to the characters, you care what happens to them, and you long to learn more about them.
The father/daughter relationship between Norman and Chelsea is heartbreaking. In just the few scenes in which they are together, it is obvious how much they love each other… how much they want to be close… and yet, they aren’t. It isn’t until Chelsea brings Billy, her boyfriend’s son, to visit her parents that Norman finally bonds with a child. It’s just said that it wasn’t his own child.
The husband/wife relationship between Norman and Ethel is exactly what I believe my grandparents had. They lived a similar life and were not only each other’s best friends, but they were soul mates. They were perfect together in every way. I believe that Thompson wrote their relationship to be perfect… almost to perfect, but not unbelievable in any way.
As an actress, reading this script has just added two characters to my list of dream roles I’d love to play. If I ever get the chance, in the next few years to audition for Chelsea, I will not let it pass me by, and of course… Ethel would be a dream role when I get older.
As a director, I have to be honest… I think it would be hard knowing how emotionally connected I am with the characters. I think I’d want to be on stage too much to do justice as a director.
APPEARANCE: Plain green cover with black text… Typical Dramatists Play Service cover. I feel like the plain cover allows the reader to use their imagination when envisioning the characters.
MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“Sometimes you have to look hard at a person and remember he’s doing the best he can. He’s just trying to find his way, just like you.”
“Well, that’s what happens if you live long enough: You end up being old. it’s one of the disadvantages of a long life. I still prefer it to the alternative.”
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Movie Title: On Golden Pond
Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: Katharine Hepburn (Ethel Thayer), Henry Fonda (Norman Thayer Jr.), and Jane Fonda (Chelsea Thayer Wayne)
STORYLINE: The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea — whom they haven’t seen for years — feels she must be there for Norman’s birthday. She and her fiancé are on their way to Europe the next day but will be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the fiancé’s son. When she returns Chelsea is married and her stepson has the relationship with her father that she always wanted. Will father and daughter be able to communicate at last? (IMDB.COM)
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