Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 21, 2017


Chester Theatre Co., Chester, MA
through August 27
By Stuart  W. Gamble

Tom Wells’ U.S. premiere of his play "Folk" at Chester Theatre Co., is an absolute delight from start to finish. Consisting of only three actors and one set, running for 90-minutes (intermission-free), this poignant dramedy is a perfect ending to CTC twenty-eighth season of summer theater.

Directed with warmth and love by James Warwick, this new play offers compassion and insight into the lives of those who live on the fringe of society. "Folk" features Sister Winnie (Michelle Tauber) a cigarette smoking and Guiness guzzling nun who enjoys her Friday nights of singing and dancing with her guitar strumming mate Stephen (Michael Sean McGuiness). Stephen is socially awkward, but forgets his troubles when jamming with Sr. Winne. Into this duo’s revelry comes Kayleigh (Emery Henderson) a troubled teenager and former student of Winnie.

As the story progresses, the audience learns about each character’s personal anguish: Winnie’s serious health problem, Stephen’s personal and economic troubles, and Kayleigh’s life-changing dilemma. Throughout, the audience becomes enamored of this truly endearing trio.

Emery Henderson, Photo by Elizabeth Solaka.
The actors in "Folk" do outstanding work:  Michelle Tauber’s delightful Sr. Winnie shows life-affirming joy in everything she says and does; Michael Sean McGuinness as the introverted Stephen shows that still waters run deep; Emery Henderson is absolute perfection as young Kayleigh. Not only is Henderson’s acting first-rate, but also her singing voice is sweetly serene.

Set in the industrial city of Hull in East Yorkshire, England, Folk shows the need for human connection in a cold, harsh world where death and heartache constantly await us. As playwright Wells says in the show’s program: “I think maybe a sense of belonging to something—means a lot to the sort of characters I like to write about. That’s why I like theatre really, hopefully there’s room for everyone.”