WDL’s “Leaves” Delivers Powerful, Poignant Message About Illness


Wilmington Drama League (WDL) staged another outstanding performance this past weekend. Lucy Caldwell’s Leaves was a brilliant, heartbreaking portrayal of the effects of depression on a young woman and her family.

The play surrounded a seemingly average Irish family and their everyday struggles. It is revealed that the cause of many of their problems is the oldest daughter’s recent suicide attempt. I thought the storyline was extremely unique because of the focus on the effects of mental illness — not only on those who are personally affected by it, but also the impact on those who have known and loved them their entire lives. The damaged relationships and interpersonal disconnects are a side of depression not often discussed or presented. WDL did an excellent job of leaving off the “sugar-coat” to show the audience the truth about the widespread effects of having, or living with a person who has, a mental illness. The downplay of diseases such as depression is an enormous problem that I believe this performance is trying to help eradicate.

I don’t think WDL could have found a better cast to portray the intense roles required for the show. The cast ranged in age from 7th Grader to adult, and each of them equally talented. What made their performances even more impressive was the added Irish accents. Caldwell, the writer of Leaves and an Ireland native, would have been impressed by the authenticity in their portrayal of a typical Irish family. In addition to the excellent cast, this play was significant for WDL because of the two young directors leading the show. Mollie Montgomery and Cassey Moore — both high school students — co-directed this show without the help of adults. I think this made the actors’ performances even more impressive. Their direction and interpretation was both inspired and unique. I don’t think that many adults have the skills that these two young students have.

An aspect of Leaves that made it particularly outstanding was the display of artwork by Emily Spiegel and Michael Curcio. Emily and Michael were two young local artists recently lost to suicide. Their works were displayed in the front lobby and added a more personal depth to the show that the whole audience could feel. There was also the option to buy tea for $1 to support ContactLifeline, a Delaware-based 24/7 suicide hotline. In addition, $1 from each show ticket was donated to the ContactLifeline. I thought that this was an excellent benefit to a beautiful performance.

I thought this production was excruciating in the most unbelievable way. This show was not for those looking for a relaxing night out. From start to finish, the show was intense and evocative, with glimmers of humor here and there. The ending came off as an “it’s all better now” conclusion, but left me wondering what was implied for the character’s futures. I think that Wilmington Drama League did an extraordinary job of executing this provocative production.