“…The sun shines East, The sun shines West, I don’t know where the sun shines best.” Al Jolson
Motherhood has many layers; there is the mother who raises you, the mother you aspire to be, and the mother you ultimately become. The Sun Shines East is a play which portrays one family’s journey to parenthood through the trials and joys of adoption, “A Journey to Love-Transcending Time, Borders and Blood.”
Christine (Amy Staats) has suffered multiple miscarriages. She and her husband Robert (Bristol Pomeroy) are working actors who wish to adopt an infant, their first child. Christine has a very strained relationship with her mother Beatta (Mary Francina Golden), a cold and sometimes cruel woman, troubled by her own upbringing. Setting the stage for the drama, Christine visits her mother in Brazil and finds that she has not even been informed of her own grandmother’s death.
When Christine speaks about her desire to have a baby, Beatta makes a hurtful comment, “You weren’t meant to be a mother.” Yet, during the adoption process, it is Beatta’s Eastern European heritage that inspires the young couple to travel to the politically troubled Republic of Georgia for a newborn baby, a little girl they name Claire.
While in Georgia, Christine and Robert work with an administrator, Dodo (Karen Christie-Ward), who advocates for them. Government regulations and turmoil make the process a slow, painstaking one. Multiple visits to the country are filled with disappointments and delays; the couple is deeply concerned for Claire’s well-being and one recognizes the deep bonding of these parents with the child.
The Sun Shines East also gives the audience an intimate and realistic view of the marital stress that can occur during the adoption process that can be exhaustive for prospective parents. A particularly heart-wrenching scene comes when Christine has an emotional outburst and blames Robert for his lack of support.
The actors are deeply invested in their roles. Amy Staats as Christine and Bristol Pomeroy as Robert perfectly portray hopeful, loving parents. Mary Francina Golden as Beatta is the well defined, conflicted character who lends the back story to Christine’s childhood. Karen Christie-Ward as Dodo is warm, but tough; a realistic portrayal of a woman working against the odds of Georgia’s changing government policies. The small cast makes seamless shifts in supporting roles; Tara Gadomski, Karen Christie-Ward and Marina Kaganova are so convincing in their multiple parts that you may not realize this is just a cast of six. Mary Francina Golden also plays the very abrupt Minister of Justice in the Republic of Georgia; this role is a bittersweet one as she has the ultimate authority to grant adoption.
The Sun Shines East is beautifully written by Corinne Chateau; the play was inspired by her experience of adopting a baby boy with her husband, Bryan Hickey, seventeen years ago. Pat Golden’s direction is splendid and the staging is absolutely captivating. The use of long full length drapes and creative lighting effects make scene changes flow easily with the help of simple but versatile props.
This play is especially timely. While it is set in the 1990’s, Vladimir Putin’s recent ban on the adoption of Russian children reinforces the difficulties families face with foreign governments on this issue.
The Sun Shines East is the touching story of the difficulty and joy of one family and the love they have to share. We highly recommend it for all audiences.
Photos by John FitzGibbon
1. Bristol Pomeroy and Amy Staats
2. Mary Francina Golden
3. Amy Staats and Karen Christie-Ward
4. Tara Gadomski and Amy Staats
5. Mary Francina Golden and Amy Staats
The Sun Shines East
The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater
West Side Y
5 West 63rd Street
Through February 16, 2014
Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The 90 minute production has no intermission.
For more information and tickets, please go to TheaterMania