Heading Home? ‘The Trip to Bountiful

Poster for Domino Theatre's production of 'A Trip to Bountiful'. The title, playwright, director, and company are noted. The background is a large house on green grass against a blue sky.

Embark on an emotional journey where a sense of adventure and nostalgia resonate throughout. On Thursday, January 18th, I caught opening night of Domino Theatre’s production of The Trip to Bountiful, written by Horton Foote and directed by Rachael McDonald, and was pleasantly surprised. The heartwarming play is a story of longing for home and follows the elderly Carrie Watts (Sandie Cond) as she runs away from her Houston apartment where she lives with her son, Ludie (Bryan McDonald) and her daughter-in-law, Jessie May (Anne-Marie Bergman). Carrie yearns for Bountiful, her hometown, and will do anything to go back there. Nevertheless, her desire to return is met with resistance from Jessie May and Ludie, who attempt to stop this from occurring. The play touches on important themes of nostalgia, loneliness, identity, and most prominently, family dynamics.

All three leads are standouts and fantastic in their performances. Cond embodies Carrie Watts as she undergoes a journey of self-discovery. Her portrayal of an elderly woman yearning to leave home and her drastically different portrayal of embarking on the exciting journey back to Bountiful are met with the same conviction. As well, Cond’s scenes with Bergman are a wonderful watch as both actors bounce off each other well when bickering and fighting. 

Bergman is simply terrific as Jessie May. I hated her character throughout the show which means, as the antagonist, she did her job well. Embodying the authoritarian daughter-in-law perfectly, she somehow has chemistry with everyone she shares the stage with. 

McDonald depicts Ludie with care and excellence. The inner struggle for Ludie to try and appease his wife and mother as they bicker among each other is incredibly entertaining. His soft spokenness throughout the play is very well done as his raised voice comes with authority and meaning.

The set is beautifully crafted by Set Design and Chief Carpenter Grant Buckler and his team. There are a multitude of different locations throughout the show, each with its own flavour. From the bus station to the house in Bountiful, one of my favourites is the apartment in Houston. I appreciate the way they built the set, showing only the kitchen/living room and bedroom. Instead of having a physical wall in between the rooms, two door frames are placed upstage to act as doors for the rooms. Meaning to get from the kitchen to the bedroom, one would need to walk through the door frame in the kitchen, walk down an imaginary hallway, then go through the door frame in the bedroom. This makes the apartment feel bigger than it looks.

I also want to give a shout-out to the Travellers and Singers of the show. They all do brilliant work of adding life to the performance and making the scenes feel real. Along with acting, they are also tasked with changing the sets. Their efficiency in changing sets while also singing hymns is something to be applauded. They never miss a beat and sound great while laying out each new set with perfection.

As for the play in general, I feel very indifferent towards it. I enjoyed the characters and their relationships. I appreciated how Jessie May’s character was written and how she is the obvious antagonist to Carrie Watts, yet beneath her authoritarian exterior she still has a heart and cares for the well-being of her mother-in-law.

I did, however, find it difficult to relate to the story being told. I, myself, am much younger than Carrie Watts is. In the play, she longs to go back home when I am at an age where I want to leave, explore, and live elsewhere. With that being said, it is a very common sentiment that resonates with countless others in the same position and will touch many viewers.

The Trip To Bountiful is an endearing play about a lady yearning to go home. The play cleverly uses this concept to touch on family dynamics and nostalgia, leaving a heartwarming feeling with audiences by its conclusion. 

‘The Trip to Bountiful’ is playing at Domino Theatre until February 3rd, 2024. More information can be found here