6 Apr 2010
Review by Tulis McCall
"Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship." This is the line that begins and ends this lay. In between there is a whole lot of uncomfortable dealings with a father that could be charitably called irascible, and truthfully labeled as self centered and narrow minded – and that is on a good day.
It is unusual to find a lay whose second act is better than the first, but this is one. It is in the second act that we get to the meat of the problem. Children try to love a father who doesn't love back.
As Tom, Keir Dullea, is firing on all pistons. His children are a mystery to him, as is life. The former Mayor of the town remembers the days when cops saluted him on the street. He remembers vigor and youth and that he was the one on whom his family depended without so much as a thank you and if they can't admit that now they, and the horse they rode in on, can go to Hell. We never find out why all this is so, and we don't have to. It just IS. Like Tom who is tied up in knots that will some day suffocate him, the story is plain and simple and painful.
What keeps us watching is the journey of Gene (Matt Servitto) who is having his memory play because the relationship with his father is still alive. Not well, but alive. He reviews it and reviews it, as do we all. Our parents are the glue that held us in place while the world came into focus. Our reference points for life is what parents are. We may leave. We may become wildly different people. We may flee for our lives. We may live in the same town. Our parents follow along like our shadows.
The cast is unremarkable, but they never get in the way of the story – which may be the point. Marsha Mason appears in the first act only and is given the job of being lovely and sincere. She does her darndest, but the part itself is a bit one note in the face of all the anxiety that swirls around her. Matt Servitto is at his best when he doesn't think about the lines but goes for the jugular. As his sister, Alice, Rose Courney brings a certain gravitas to the party. She is the daughter who was banished and as such knows how high the stakes really are.
Dullea reminded me of my own father – and he may do the same for you. It doesn't make you comfortable, but it sure makes you dance through your own past. Those relationships are still yammering away, no matter the distance.
"Whether you cry for the characters or for your own memories, the tears fall just the same."
Ken Jaworowski for New York Times
"A quietly sensitive staging that brings out the work's strengths."
Frank Scheck for New York Post
"Director Jonathan Silverstein shows again how adept he is at illuminating text through precise staging and strong acting."
Erik Haagensen for Back Stage
External links to full reviews from popular press...