The relationship between an elderly parent and adult child can be a tug of war, especially as age challenges traditional ideas about independence. Playwright Eric Coble has made that familial standoff the foundation for his latest work.
"Looking at the situation myself and others my age are in, dealing with older family members and late-in-life issues, led me to ask, •What if someone simply refused to go?' " says Coble, who resides in Cleveland Heights.
The Velocity of Autumn, which makes its Cleveland debut March 23 at the Beck Center for the Arts, centers around Alexandra, an elderly woman who is set on remaining in her Brooklyn brownstone despite her children's attempts to move her to a retirement home. The arrival of Alexandra's estranged son, Chris, only complicates the matter.
"These two characters have to find some way forward," Coble says, "or else one of them is going to be destroyed."
As Coble was writing the character of Alexandra, he had one person in mind for the role: Dorothy Silver. The 82-year-old actress has been a fixture on the Cleveland theater scene for more than five decades, starring in plays such as Death of a Salesman, The Gin Game and All My Sons.
"I had been thinking about who here in Cleveland would be great to play this role, and Dorothy came immediately to mind," Coble says. "She read it, loved it and immediately said yes. It's kind of a dream come true."