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A Fine Bright Day Today at Little Lake

This sweet, complex love story surprises with its heartfelt twists and unexpected laughs

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A Fine Bright Day Today, now playing at Little Lake Theatre, argues that it’s never too late to start again. At the behest of her daughter, set-in-her-ways widow Margaret (Patricia Cena Fuchel) takes in lodger Milton Farnsworth (Keith Zagorski), an itinerant and seemingly carefree American who spends his days sketching and photographing the ocean. During his month-long stay in her British coastal town, the two middle-aged opposites clash, drink, and bond over their lives and how things never quite turned out as they expected. On the surface, it’s a simple setup, but this sweet, complex love story manages to surprise with its heartfelt twists and unexpected laughs.

For this U.S. premiere, Little Lake veteran director (and current artistic director) Jena Oberg is at the helm, and she directs her three-person cast with confidence and ease. Zagorski imbues the role of Milton with an aw-shucks charm that contrasts perfectly with Fuchel’s Margaret and her steely resolve. Rounding out the trio as Rebecca, Margaret’s only child, Danette Marie Levers shines, rebuffing and challenging her mother’s difficult nature as only a loving child can.

Playwright Philip Goulding has big aspirations with his story of misfits finding their place in the world. In addition to the core romance, multiple scenes open with offbeat anecdotes about fictional artist Franklin Bowden Broome, who serves as Milton’s inspiration and reason for visiting Rebecca’s town. Goulding also takes on weightier issues, including the crass commercialization and generational poverty that plague overfished seaside communities in England, as well as abroad. But while the actors deliver their monologues on these topics with conviction, the play never allows the germs of these ideas to fully flourish, leaving a slight gap where something deeper could have been.

However, as a tale of second chances, A Fine Bright Day Today succeeds with style. With a superbly talented cast and deft direction, the message is clear: No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to spread your wings and fly.

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