Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Main(e) Play

photo: Ryan Jensen

I thought I had this new living-room drama (by Chad Beckim) all figured out within fifteen minutes: here we are again as so many times before watching the guy who's made some good in the big city returning to the frozen-in-time working class suburban home he fled years before. But the condascension I feared toward the blue collar characters was nowhere to be seen, and it quickly became apparent that the playwright was interested in rendering the two brothers at the center of the story - the actor who left and the single father who stayed - with respect and dignity. The play is at its naturalistic best when these two are its focus: the gulf between them, even at their kindest to each other, is well-observed and credible. The play gets a bit bogged down with eleventh hour exposition of the melodramatic backstory kind - less would have been more there - and the play's other characters are not as interesting as the brothers. But the playwright's dialogue almost never rings false and the play ultimately has a quiet, affecting melancholy as it finally evokes the contradiction that while you can never go home again, neither can you ever really leave home behind.

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