Review: The Play About My Dad
Memory speaks volumes in Boo Killebrew's meta meditation on wasted time and bad weather.
Fri Jun 24 2011
Photograph: Chantel C. Lucier
FATHER TIME Greenfield, middle, takes a trip with Potter and mother Tracey...
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
"You know what we can thank storms for?" asks the elderly Essie Watson (Geany Masai) of a courteous man who has come to board up her windows against the oncoming wind and rain. "Really great stories." And that is what the up-and-coming CollaborationTown company delivers, too, in Boo Killebrew's moving and imaginatively generous The Play About My Dad. The man in Essie's house is Larry Killebrew (Jay Potter, wonderfully natural), the playwright's father and, in 2005, a doctor in Gulfport, Mississippi; the tempest in question was Hurricane Katrina, which took many lives there; and the play is a memory piece in which an actor, Anna Greenfield, embodies the playwright herself, testing out the script as it goes along. Memory, storytelling, playwriting and time travel intersect with a lovely kind of epic intimacy.
The plot's core elements—the storm and the playwright's stormy relationship with the man who abandoned her years before—could tip into the maudlin as easily as Killebrew's Well-ish metatheatrical conceit could tip into the arch. But these risks balance each other beautifully; as the play tells its multiple stories—including those of a family trapped on the roof of its flooded home, and two EMTs (TJ Witham and the excellent Jordan Mahome) in an ambulance—its alternations of scale give it an elegant restraint in the face of tragedy. (There are key moments of silence in which the characters simply stare off at a looming force offstage, indescribable in its menace.) Some of the production may initially seem broad in 59E59's tiny Theater C, but as directed by Lee Sunday Evans, The Play About My Dad gradually takes you into its spell. Don't be surprised if, by the end, your own emotional floodgates have been tested.
59E59. By Boo Killebrew. Dir. Lee Sunday Evans. With ensemble cast. 1hr 25mins. No intermission.