An institutionalized woman's secrets are unlocked in “The Springvale Armadillo”
“The Springvale Armadillo” is a new play by Donald Loftus, inspired by a true story about a woman locked in an institution for 70 years, suspected of having a disease that never materialized. In 1927, in a small town near New Orleans, a beautiful 17 year-old debutante is diagnosed with a disease that threatens her life and the reputation of her wealthy family name. The family she loves sends her away, her name is changed, and she is forced to spend the rest of her life at a hospital called Springvale. The disease never materializes. Now, 70 years later, Matthew, a troubled, young Boston Globe reporter who has recently lost the love of his life to AIDS, has arrived at Springvale to interview Ruby for a human-interest story he is writing on the subject of survival. Although Matthew came to "get the story", he really hopes to get answers from a woman who ought to have them. Even today, after 70 years, and hardships and heartbreak beyond imagination, Ruby still maintains the glow and charm of a young debutante; the beauty is still visible. During the interviews, a young Ruby appears almost ghost-like and assists in relaying the stories of Ruby's life. As the questions get more and more painful and closer to the bone, Ruby is forced to remember the tragic details of her life. In the end, Matthew gets what he came for.