Saturday, March 25, 2023
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The Roads to Home - a trio of interconnected vignettes by Horton Foote charms

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for

Take a trip back to the past with Primary Stages production of Horton Foote’s pleasant and homey play at the Cherry Lane Theatre featuring six excellent actors bringing an honesty and real life to the nine characters that inhabit this trio of interconnected vignettes.

It is the men who have double duty here as they portray others in the last and shortest scene: Spring Dance. The three women are what the play is about. Great character studies all. With little action and a plot that is nearly nonexistent.

It is 1924 in the Houston Texas kitchen of Mabel Votaugh (a delightful Hallie Foote) where her best friend and neighbor Vonnie Hayhurst (the always reliable-for-a-good-laugh Harriet Harris) having just returned from a trip gossip and chatter away about the trolley, shopping and movie matinees over coffee when Annie Gayle Long (a superb Rebecca Brooksher) pops in.

She has problems. She is a nervous lady so wound up she rattles away, finding it difficult to deal with her two young children after witnessing the murder of her father. Pow! Pow! Pow! Reliving the horrible deed as the other two ladies try to put her at ease. She appears to be on the verge as she attempts to understand her life while breaking into song now and then. Her distraught albeit calm husband Mr. Long (Dan Bittner) arrives to take her home. This is scene one: A Nightingale.

Six months later and we are in the parlor of Mabel’s home. A reverse set from the kitchen. Both beautifully detailed by designer Jeff Cowie.

Mabel’s husband Jack (Devon Abner) is in his easy chair taking it easy. Asleep. Only to awaken briefly when Vonnie visits to be consoled as her husband Eddie (Matt Sullivan) has asked for a divorce. It gets a bit melodramatic here in The Dearest of Friends – scene two. Even though the two ladies stage whisper we can hear them well. Congratulations.

Intermission. And then we are taken to Spring Dance in Austin. In a lovely garden. It is four years later and Annie we soon realize is in an asylum. With our three male actors portraying fellow patients. They are just as confused as Annie but it is sad and poignant as they try to cope without much understanding. They are clothed in formal wear and appear normal except for their disorientation and confusion. It is an unexpected and unsettling turn that leaves us a bit confused ourselves.

But the beautiful performances of the six actors overshadow any deficiencies in the structure of the script as we head for home ourselves, glad to have met these quirky characters that we care for.

What could have been static and boring isn’t due to the natural and amusing dialogue of Horton Foote, the detailed characterizations and the subtle and refined direction of Michael Wilson. It’s a soft and lovely production. Through Nov 27th.


Photo: James Leynse