“Ordinary People” at St. Joseph’s Regional High Reflects on Depression and Therapy

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BY GEORGE J. DACRE

This is an impressive presentation of what depression can cause in a family and how, sometimes, things can be worked out through therapy. It is well performed by the cast of Bergen County boys and girls from St. Joseph’s and other Bergen County high schools. James Zitelli as Conrad Jarrett has deep depression over the death of his brother in a boating accident.

He has difficulty relating to his mother Beth Jarett (played by Victoria Duffy) and this in turn causes her problems that result in conflict with her husband Calvin. Enter psychiatrist Doctor Berger (Nick Berninger) who conducts several sessions with Conrad in an attempt to help him. The Jarretts are an upper middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois and their story deals with family conflict, survivor guilt, suicide and finally the healing power of therapy.

“Ordinary People” brought about an awareness of such issues around the country when it premiered on the big screen in 1980 and as performed at St. Joseph’s continues to do so. The acting is superb and meaningful. The drama plays out with Conrad being helped through Dr. Berger’s convincing him that he is his friend and that he, Conrad, can deal with the guilt. But the parents, who reconcile, are then separated again.

A girlfriend of Conrad’s commits suicide during the play as well. “Ordinary People” will be performed again at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22 and again on Saturday April 23. I rate “Ordinary People” Three Out of Four Stars.

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