June 30–September 30
THE CHALK GARDEN
by Enid Bagnold
“I will continue to explore the astonishment of living!”
A telling metaphor… from a play that is itself a metaphor about a family stuck in a place where the living things are unable to grow and flourish. Deftly written with a richly dry wit that gives the characters savory language mixing light and dark, it is a perfect blend of satirical humor and insightful truths. Set in the 1950’s, in a seaside English manor house built for a bygone era of social convention and certainty, the ambiguity of humanity is told through the eyes of a mysterious woman who shakes up its inhabitants to confront the change that is pressing in on them. The matriarch of the manor has two obsessions; caring for her troubled teenage granddaughter, and growing a traditional English garden in the harsh lime and chalk soil of the surrounding grounds.
Miss Madrigal arrives for the post of governess to the girl, without references, but with a keen knowledge of gardening, and is hastily hired. She soon takes things in hand, and begins to teach her new ‘charges’ that adversity does not predetermine defeat once we embrace the tools we have and stop bemoaning the lack of those we desire. All is going well as her influence begins to lift the cloud and spirits of the household until an afternoon luncheon with an old family friend threatens the peace with the uncomfortable revelations his visit unintentionally exposes.