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Photo: Andrew Alexander

Finishing the Suit

By Lawrence Aronovitch

Bear & Co.

Directed by Joël Beddows

Coming to terms with the past is the only way to prepare for the future. Even then, putting grief to rest is incredibly difficult.

This is the theme of Lawrence Aronovitch’s fine play, Finishing the Suit, currently having its premiere production from Bear & Co. at the Gladstone.

The title is partly drawn from the reality of completing a morning coat (also referred to as a mourning coat in the context of the script). It is also a metaphor for sewing up the past through memory and conversation.

Directed with sensitivity and clarity by Joël Beddows, the three-person cast tells of the two people that have had the greatest impact on the tailor (Matt Pilipiak), The two, David (David Whiteley) —who is to wear the morning coat in death—and Jimmy (Isaac Giles) are both dead, but remain alive in the tailor’s heart and remembrance, almost to the exclusion of his daily existence.

Jimmy, the love of the tailor’s life, is Irish, mischievous and charming. David, Duke of Windsor, admired from afar by the tailor, is dignified, cool and lacking in understanding. (This is how history frequently presents the former Edward VIII.)

Finishing the Suit also includes an unseen character, Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor — Nazi sympathizer, anti-Semite and adulterous wife. Her Jimmy—mentioned in the script, was Jimmy Donahue, heir to the Woolworth fortune, and many years her junior, with whom she had a five-year affair.

Playwright Aronovitch delivers a powerful and passionate script in Finishing the Suit. A love story that speaks about the meaning of grief, it offers guidance on summoning the courage to continue when there seems little hope of any future happiness. It also has the stamp of authenticity through its historical accuracy and knowledge of religious practice.

Each of the three coast members offers a strong characterization. The well-contrasted performances of the ensemble result in a seamless production in which all three wear their roles as comfortably as tailor-made suits.

The Bear & Co production of Finishing the Suit, which continues at the Gladstone to March 11, is not to be missed.

Director: Joël Beddows

Set: Ivo Valentik

Lighting: David Mgladry

Sound: AL Connors

Costumes: Angela Haché

Cast:

The Tailor…………………………………………………..Matt Pilipiak

Jimmy……………………………………………………….Isaac Giles

David………………………………………………………..David Whiteley