Burholme residents direct play about abortion

Keely and Du, directed by Burholme residents Tom Ryan and Scott Grumling, attempts to put human faces to both sides of the debate about abortion.

Du (Linda Palmarozza) comforts Keely (Andrea Rose Cardoni) in Allens Lane Theaters production of Keely and Du. TOM RYAN/SUBMITTED PHOTO

When playwright Jane Martin first wrote Keely and Du in 1994, the issue of abortion was one of the most divisive political issues in the country.

That’s still true all these years later, said Burholme residents Tom Ryan and Scott Grumling, who are directing the show for the second time in their lives. The play will debut March 7 at Allens Lane Art Center in Mount Airy, showcasing the work of Ryan, Grumling and stage manager Victoria Crenshaw, also from the Northeast.

The play follows Keely, who becomes pregnant after her estranged husband rapes her. She ends up in the care of Du, a retired nurse who is pro-life and pressures Keely to keep the baby.

“The show really puts human face to the two women,” Grumling said. “Hopefully audiences will see the humanity behind the characters and not just view this as a debate one way or another – there are two very real women behind this issue in this play.”

Ryan and Grumling had previously directed the play at Playcrafters of Skippack, where they said it generated discussion from audiences and even had a local elected official urging residents to go see it.

While the two had been going through scripts to decide what show to do next, news reports about the future of Roe V. Wade and a women’s march came on the television, and they both thought of Keely and Du at the same time.

“The relevancy of the topic and political aspects of it are still as strong as they were back in 1993,” Ryan said.

Ryan worked at the Hartford Stage Company when the original cast performed at the venue. He recalled being taken aback while watching them rehearse, and hoping that one day he would be involved with the production.

The show will be presented at Allens Lane Art Center, 601 W. Allens Lane in Philadelphia, on March 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. and matinees March 8, 15 and 22 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and are available at 215-248-0546 or online at AllensLane.org. The press release notes that the show contains mature content and adult language and caution is advised for people 18 and under.