After a brief scene of Helen recovering from an illness in infancy that left her blind and deaf, the play focuses on a two week period when Annie was first hired to teach Helen when she was about seven, and Annie only 21. Up until that point, Helen's family indulged her and cared for her but didn't have the skills to teach her, or even know if she could be taught. Helen's mother loved her fiercely and never gave up hope, her father was mostly hands off as fathers of that era were, her older half-brother felt neglected, and Aunt Ev did her best to keep the family together. Annie came into the family with tough love, treating Helen just like any other child and insisting she display manners and do her lessons. She saw what the others didn't, that Helen was hungering for words and knowledge and just needed the key into that world. She expected that Helen could learn, and she did. It's amazing what people can do when you believe in them. The iconic moment at the water pump when Helen finally realizes what words are is so profound it'll give you chills and bring home the importance of language and learning in everyone's life. The play ends shortly after that scene and I wasn't ready for it, I wanted to see more of Helen's incredible journey.
|Helen and Annie (Catie Bair and Kiara Jackson, photo by Justin Cox)
|the set and cast of The Miracle Worker (photo by Justin Cox)
Even if you know the story, there's something new to learn and experience from seeing it on stage. It's a beautiful story of connection, family, teaching, learning, language, and love, well staged at my favorite little theater in the 'burbs. Continuing through October 14. Limited tickets remain so act fast!