Sunday, 14 September 2014

ALMOST HOME by Walter Anderson produced by the Directors Company at the Acorn Theatre

     I'm not going to belabor this one. ALMOST HOME, written by former PARADE Magazine editor Walter Anderson, reminded me of a mediocre 1950s television drama. The style is old-fashioned kitchen sink realism (although the play is set in the 1960s, the kitchen looked like something out of the 1930s). The language is that ersatz urban realism one found in poor 1950s dramas -- none of the poetry of Odets, Miller or even Paddy Chayefsky. The story didn't make a lot of sense. It is 1965. Johnny (Jonny Orsini, who deserved better), comes home from Vietnam with dreams of going to college in California. He's got a battle-scarred psyche and thousands of dollars made from selling money on the black market. His father (Joe Lisi), is a drunk and gambler who has to do favors for a bent police captain (James McCaffrey). His mother (veteran musical star Karen Ziemba)  is sweet and long-suffering, a sort of Linda Loman. The nasty police captain wants Johnny to go to the police academy and work his way into internal affairs so he can allow bent cops to continue their nefarious activities. There's also Johnny's spunky but loving first grade teacher who just happens to live upstairs (Brenda Pressley). Johnny's motivation changes from scene to scene as do his father's loyalties. Plot coherence is not Anderson's strong suit (what is?).
     The cast labored bravely with this material, trying desperately to convince the audience that it was worthy of them. Jonny Orsini proved in THE NANCE that he is a fine actor. His credits state that he already is committed to a Broadway production in the Spring. He is as convincing as the material allows him to be -- actually he does all he can to give Johnny some substance. Everyone else labors on bravely and diligently. One only wonders why this play is being produced at all.
AMOST HOME> Acorn Theatre. September 14, 2014.

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