In Lee Blessing’s moving play, a young man searches for the father he never knew and comes up against a grumpy old chap who apparently couldn’t care less. Or could he? There are many people living apparently busy lives who never connect emotionally with another human being, except perhaps for one precious night that stays in one memory but had no consequences, until out of the blue that half-forgotten event suddenly holds out the promise of belonging to someone. If you dare.
Don’t miss this play, you’ll laugh and perhaps even cry a little, but you will see recognizable human beings who make us aware how we all need people and what a tragedy it is to never connect. It’s a deeply human story, experienced similarly by close friends of mine, and in each case nothing was as it seemed. So it is in this poignant, funny and honest play.
Lloyd Pedersen is heartbreaking as the curmudgeonly old baseball umpire who appears to value the winning of a Series to the gaining of a son. Dan Sykes is forceful as the ever-impatient son, demanding to know where and who he came from, but frustrated at every turn by the seemingly impenetrable wall between them.
There is an added poignancy here because the original director, Sherry Netherland, died after staging the play but Group Rep artistic director Larry Eisenberg carries her vision forward admirably. Minimal set by Chris Winfield, graphics by Doug Haverty, lighting by J. Kent Inasy, sound by Steve Shaw and costumes by Angela M. Eads.
At the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, through August 30. Tickets at (818) 763-5990 or www.thegrouprep.com.
Photos by Doug Engalla.