In a society plagued by sky-high divorce rates, Glendale Centre Theatre’s current production, “Bundle of Trouble,” offers an inverse tale of love rekindled.
“We’re all used to these very difficult situations [involving broken relationships], and here is a very hopeful message about how they could possibly be repaired,” director James Castle Stevens said of the play, written by the theater’s co-founders, Nathan and Ruth Hale.
When 7-year-old Abby, played by Isabella Ponce, arrives on the doorstep of her estranged, eccentric father, Jeff, portrayed by Randy Marquis, by his similarly distanced wife, Annette, played by Megan Blakeley, he doesn’t know what to do with himself, let alone his young daughter.
Somehow, by turning his already disheveled world upside down, precocious Abby manages to rebind her parents’ troubled relationship.
“That probably doesn’t happen that often, so it makes it very romantic and dramatized,” said Stevens, who regularly acted at the theater before transitioning to director around 13 years ago.
To bring the mid-1980s-written script up to speed, Stevens tweaked some elements — for example, removing depictions of corporal punishment of children — but he kept its original essence intact.
Unlike some children’s roles, Ponce has a significant responsibility as Abby. She is onstage a large portion of each performance and has many lines.
“Retention and learning of the role is extraordinary,” Stevens said, lauding Ponce’s performance and dedication.
Stevens added that there is another substantial child-portrayed role, Everett, played deftly by Van Brunelle.
One of the other actors in the play, Bubba, is a dog.
While Stevens thought working professionally with a pooch “would be problematic, it turned out to be very joyful.”
Having Bubba, who plays Molly, on set made the team feel more like a real family, according to Stevens.
Bubba belongs to Brunelle’s family.
One benefit of working with material composed by the late Hale duo is that it’s written to be performed on the theater’s 360-degree, “round” stage, which can sometimes be a challenging setting for other works, Stevens said.
Taking place mostly in inventor Jeff’s slovenly, one-bedroom apartment, the design centered almost entirely on set dressing rather than construction.
“There was lots and lots of mess we had to create,” Stevens said, including overflowing file cabinets and piles of rubbish.
As with all of the theater’s shows, the production is made for all ages, with a focus on wholesome content.
“It’s all about family and the ties that bind,” Stevens said of “Bundle of Trouble.”
“It’s nice that there’s a venue like that, where you don’t have to be overly concerned if you want to bring not just your adult date,” he added.
“Bundle of Trouble” runs until Feb. 2. The theater’s showtimes have changed for the new season. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinees start at 2 p.m.