Thursday, January 14, 2010

Safe Home

photo: Alex Koch

This 90 minute one-act by Sean Cullen convincingly depicts a working class family in 1950's Buffalo whose eldest son Lucky (Eric Miller) dies in the Korean War. The otherwise straightforward play is arranged so that its scenes play out of order - we learn in the first that Lucky has died, and in the subsequent scenes watch the family either coping with the loss or interacting with him before he goes off to war. The structure isn't pretentious - it purposefully puts our focus directly on the family dynamics (more tough than affectionate) and allows the play's most affecting, emotionally loaded scene to catch us by surprise. The playwright does well with kitchen-sink realism - he judiciously scales the conflicts and the dialogue consistently rings true - but some of the characters have been left a bit sketchy on the page. The production uses projections at either end of the stage, partly to orient us about the flashbacks - I feared initially that the visuals would work against the play's quiet naturalism, but in fact they were restrained and sometimes used to evocative effect. The production also boasts a few very fine performances - Michael Cullen is at every moment convincing as the father, and Katy Wright Mead (in a supporting role) is absolutely spot-on in the play's most heartbreaking scene.

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