Best friends forever, luggage and all

By David Kenney

In the classic Simon and Garfunkel song "Old Friends," Paul Simon reminisces about specific memories and a certain someone.

Today, on a Saturday morning, Ester Purves-Smith and Valerie Planche are doing the same. Sitting on a couch outside the Martha Cohen Theatre, the two actors share a wide-eyed-look just prior to rehearsal for ATP’s production of Judith Thompson’s Perfect Pie.

Their mood is perfect. The flashback-ridden play chronicles the story between two reunited friends, Patsy and Marie/Francesca, and what draws people to separate and reunite again. Both Purves-Smith and Planche admit the play jogged their memory and hearts.

"It’s an incredibly powerful connection and something most people respond to," says Purves-Smith, who plays young Patsy, of the play’s strong friendship theme. "I think that having spoken to some friends that there is one thing that will complete me."

The Perfect Pie follows this journey, albeit on a unusual path. Young Patsy and young Marie are two of the four actors on stage, complimented by their older selves. The play follows Patsy and Maire’s youth in a small town where both are viewed as outcasts. It’s through their awkward childhood moments the two form a firm bond. Overall, it’s a story of having and wanting things to say to express one’s true feelings. Plance, who plays the current-day Patsy, says the play is very point/counterpoint.

"It seems quite chunky but it doesn’t feel that way," she says. "I guess what’s interesting it that we get to see that point in life between eight to 15 and see 33 years later and see all the luggage, the full package."

Playing opposite each other has helped both Purves-Smith and Planche get more in touch with their respective characters.

"Hindsight is 20/20 so the great thing about this play is give you give to the other body involved, the audience is going to get a trillion things because it’s so real," says Planche.

The script affected Planche enough to search out an old friend. Good friends at 13, the two drifted apart only to end up talking about first experiences with Vermouth and throwing up chunky noodle soup. Planche laughs at the memory and the thrill of then receiving her role as Patsy.

"I was like ‘Oh, my God’ and then I got this play and I almost couldn’t do it," she says.

Perfect Pie runs March 27-April 14 at the Martha Cohen Theatre.

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