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Women travel on a journey to heal from loss in ‘Enchanted April’

Jen Stephenson is in the cast of Mother Road Theatre Company’s “Enchanted April.” (Courtesy of John Maio)

Jen Stephenson is in the cast of Mother Road Theatre Company’s “Enchanted April.” (Courtesy of John Maio)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Four very different Englishwomen escape damp and chilly London for an Italian seaside castle for a radiant April.

The hopeful Lottie is married to a calculating solicitor husband who bullies her.

The much younger, furled Rose is married to a playboy poet who suavely cheats on her.

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Troubled rich girl Lady Caroline is a sexy, sophisticated war widow who needs a respite from her party life as a flapper.

The autocratic but lonely Mrs. Graves is a snooty widow who brags about her father’s acquaintances named Carlyle, Tennyson and Arnold.

Mother Road Theatre Company will present “Enchanted April” at Keshet Center for the Arts starting on Friday. Performances will continue on Thursdays and weekends through Oct. 11.

This 2000 version of Elizabeth von Armin’s best-selling 1922 novel was penned by American playwright Matthew Barber.

The story of two unhappy Hampstead housewives who set off on a journey of self-discovery made traveling to Tuscany sans husbands, a hot tourist trend. The 1992 movie version starred Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Josie Lawrence and Polly Walker. The stage version claimed both Tony and Drama League nominations.

The sun-drenched tale posits the magical notion that sunshine, flowers and a glorious view can heal all ills. Each woman is recovering from some form of deep loss, director William R. Stafford said.

“Both Lottie’s and Rose’s husbands ask them to go away with them,” he said. “They both refuse because they’ve planned this and they sort of ship out.

“Ironically, both husbands show up and they find a whole different perspective on their relationships,” he continued. “They go through a transformation not only within themselves but in their relationships.”

The ghosts of the Great War hover over them all. Caroline lost a husband. Rose lost a child who fell ill during her wartime volunteer work. The newly widowed Mrs. Graves lost a nephew.

Lottie’s penny-pinching husband infantilizes her. The meek, saddened Rose finds her husband’s source of income morally repugnant. He pens racy poetry under a pseudonym.

But the sun and wisteria hugging the Mediterranean change everything.

“I want to believe that they’ve healed,” Stafford said. “I believe this was exactly what they needed.”

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