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The Roads to Home
Photograph: James Leynse

Theater review: Horton Foote’s The Roads to Home is a sweet and sad journey

By David Cote
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This year is Horton Foote’s centenary, and to mark the occasion, Primary Stages dusted off The Roads to Home, three interrelated one-acts last seen in New York in 1992. Michael Wilson’s firm, translucent production hits the right notes of melancholy, dry humor and nostalgia we’ve come to expect from the author of The Trip to Bountiful and The Orphans Home Cycle. Although Foote passed away in 2009, the production makes a thoughtful birthday gift; and for cake and ice cream, there are lovely performances by two great ladies of the stage: Hallie Foote (Horton’s daughter) and Harriet Harris.

They play housewives Mabel Votaugh and Vonnie Hayhurst, whose husbands work for the railroad. Both couples live in Houston, but all except Vonnie grew up Harrison, the small Texas town where Horton set most of his works. During a social visit one morning, the women are joined by another Harrison transplant, young wife and mother Annie (Rebecca Brooksher), psychically scarred from witnessing her father’s murder years ago.

In usual Horton fashion, drama unfolds though folksy banter and recollected histories: Annie declines, and the two ladies’ marriages endure seriocomic trials. The final act, set in an Austin asylum where Annie has lost the narrative thread of her life (and sense of time) is both deeply sad and gently whimsical—a magic trick that only Horton could pull off.

Cherry Lane Theatre (Off Broadway). By Horton Foote. Directed by Michael Wilson. With Devon Abner, Hallie Foote, Dan Bittner, Rebecca Brooksher, Harriet Harris and Matt Sullivan. 2hrs. One intermission. Through Nov 6. Click here for full ticket and venue information.

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