Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Theater Review: Broke-ology at TheaterWorks

Royce Johnson, Frank Faucette and David Pegram
Broken and Trying to Find a Fix That Works
By Lauren Yarger
Broke-ology is a new scientific theory Ennis King (Royce Johnson) has developed: the science of being broke and staying alive while being broke.

What he doesn’t realize when he laughingly defends his theory to his brother Malcolm (David Pegram), however, is that his family, depicted in Nathan Louis Jackson’s play directed by Tazewell Thompson at TheaterWorks, is a living proof.

Ennis, already stressed by working a job he hates to try to provide for his girlfriend and a baby on the way, is glad when Malcolm returns to their Kansas City, KS home after college at the University of Connecticut, presumably to help him care for their father, William (Frank Faucette), suffering from escalating Multiple Sclerosis.

Malcolm and his father have different plans, however. The son wants to return to Connecticut where he’s been offered a job that will help him in his goal of turning around urban neighborhoods, like this one in Kansas City, now on gang territory. William, plagued by dreams of being on a sinking boat, unable to save his family, doesn’t want to be dependent on either of the boys. He’d like to return to happy times, like when he and his late wife Sonia, first bought the house (a living room, kitchen and bathroom crammed onto the small stage by designer Luke Hegel Cantarella). When William believes Sonia (Gina Daniels) has been paying him visits, he gives the boys even more cause for concern.

Just beneath the loving, good-natured ribbing the men give each other while playing dominoes and pulling childish pranks lurks the question of how each can get “unstuck” without hurting any of the others. The rich performances and Tazewell’s tight direction make a poignant study of putting the needs of other above one’s self and just how far a father might be willing to go to do that.

The play runs through Oct. 24 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm with weekend matinees at 2:30 at THeaterWorks, City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl St., Hartford. For tickets and information, call 860-527-7838 or visit www.theaterworkshartford.org.

Note: The play contains strong language.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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