“Maid’s Door” is a play that festival audiences are going to be talking about for a long time. It’s a compelling drama about a family in turmoil, one that inspires laughter, tears and reflection.

The fact that two of the actresses have local ties doesn’t hurt its appeal, either.

When we meet Ida, she’s starting a new job as a maid for a white family in New York City. On her first day, she learns that she’ll be expected to use a separate entrance, the maid’s door.

We move back and forth through time, seeing Ida years later as a grandmother. Her daughter’s family is moving into an apartment similar to the one Ida worked in, and it has a door that would once have been used by the maid.

That sets off a flood of memories for Ida.

The tone of the play shifts as the audience begins to realize that Ida isn’t just reminiscing, she’s getting tangled up in those memories and struggling to find her way back to reality.

What we’re witnessing isn’t a woman revisiting her past, but a woman falling prey to Alzheimer’s disease.

Watching Ida’s decline is heartbreaking. Sandra Mills Scott portrays Ida’s confusion and agitation with such skill that it’s easy to forget that you’re watching an actress giving a performance.

just feels real.

Melissa Joyner, a graduate of Wake Forest University, plays Ida’s daughter, Betty, a lawyer who is trying to come to terms with her mother’s condition while her marriage unravels.

Joyner gives a remarkable performance, fully inhabiting the role of a woman desperately trying to manage an unmanageable situation.

Joan T. Anderson, a graduate of N.C. A&T , plays the dual roles of young Betty and Sarah, Betty’s daughter. Seeing Sarah’s reaction to one of her grandmother’s more alarming lapses is one of the most devastating moments of the play.

Nathan James as Case, Betty’s husband, Madeline Lodge as Mrs. Lewis and Adela, and Kimberlee Monroe as Dr. Patel round out the cast, all contributing to the realism of the play. It’s a talented cast all around, directed by Jackie Alexander.

Playwright Cheryl Davis has crafted a play that’s poignant without feeling manipulative, and thought-provoking without being preachy. It makes for a memorable evening at the theater.

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