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Filial Pleasure at MetroStage

Catherine Flye returns in lovely memory play.

Audiences at MetroStage can have the pleasure of seeing Catherine Flye again in a lovely new, two-person show titled "For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again" which runs through Nov. 27.

The play is the work of Canadian playwright Michel Tremblay, a Quebeçois who writes in French, or occasionally, the Quebec working class dialect of Joual. Like his "Albertine in Five Times" which viewed one woman's life at multiple crucial stages, his "For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again" is a memory play. Here he explores his relationship with his mother — the woman who encouraged his love of literature and theater.

The concept of a writer so wanting the pleasure of one more conversation with the mother he misses after her death is simply but sensitively approached in Tremblay's script, as translated by Linda Bagoriau. The author/son is the narrator of the piece, but the focus is first, last and always on the mother, played by Flye.

A London-trained actress and director who heads her own production company in Northern Virginia, Flye makes the part very much a British mum rather than a French-Canadian mère. This, however, does no damage whatever to the emotional sweetness or intellectual honesty of the piece. Besides, it is such a good fit for Flye's very British stage persona.

Flye was first seen at MetroStage's North Royal Street theater in 2001, opening its first full season there with her firm portrayal of the leader of a 17th-century Italian convent in "Rapture" which earned her one of her dozen nominations for Helen Hayes awards for outstanding work in the theater.

Later she teamed up with Michael Tolaydo for a sensitive drama of a spinster and a man seemingly married to the sea in "Sea Marks." Most recently she brought a touch of the British music hall tradition to "The Crummles Christmas Carol."

HERE SHE MAKES the character of the mother so human, and the relationship between her and her son so close, that it is entirely understandable that he would write a play to give himself the pleasure of one more encounter with her. It is more than a mere encounter, however. It is a summary of a strong relationship that is part nostalgia, part tribute.

The narrator/son is played by Bruce M. Holmes with admirable restraint. His is a textbook definition of a fine performance in a supporting role. For over three quarters of the one-act, 90-minute play he is mostly listening to her, making short comments on their history which trigger individual scenes, memories and incidents.

His short introduction establishes the mood of the piece and the final scene in which he gives his mother a present of theatrical worth is touching indeed. In between, he is the sounding board that makes her performance all the richer.

Together, under the sensitive direction of John Vreeke, who keeps the focus on the character of the mother the vast majority of the time but never seems to let the images become static, they create a charming, heart warming and highly entertaining evening.

Brad Hathaway reviews theater in Virginia, Washington and Maryland as well as Broadway, and edits Potomac Stages, a Web site covering theater in the region (www.PotomacStages.com). He can be reached at Brad@PotomacStages.com.