Esprit de Corpse

During the New England summers of her childhood, author Elizabeth Strout fell in love with the physical world: the seaweed-covered rocks along the coast, hidden wildflowers in the deep woods — and suspected dead bodies? Well, maybe not, but that’s what she presents to her lead character in the novel Olive Kitteridge, two portions of which have been adapted for the stage by Word for Word Performing Arts Company. And how does Olive react, having come across the collapsed man on a riverside path? “`Are you dead?’ she asked loudly.” Way to get to the point. It seems comical, but the experience in the story titled “River” turns out to be transformative for Olive. She decides to help the man; an unlikely courtship helps her come to terms with a venomous confrontation that caused her to flee her small-town home in the previous story, “Tulips.” Since 1993, local theater troupe Word for Word has transformed fiction into performance, staging written works by Tobias Wolff, Daniel Handler, and Amy Tan, among others. It must be doing something right, considering Wolff, Handler, and Tan all sit on its authors' council.
Sept. 5-26, 2010

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