Want to see just how good intimate theater can be in No Ho? Or anywhere? Treat yourself to The Road Theatre Company’s That Good Night.
In the last half of the 20th century, there had been a sea change in the religious experiences of many Catholics. Catholics who came of age in the 40’s and 50’s, and raised large baby boom families, had their religious certainties reinforced by tight parish communities as well as a wider American culture that shared with them a broad moral consensus. But by the time their children were ready to form families of their own in the 60’s and beyond, the great unraveling had begun.
And by the year 2000, the tapestry was torn and tattered. The individual threads were stretching and breaking from the weight of doubt and dislocation.
Welcome to the O’Dwyer family.
Millicent O’Dwyer (JUDITH SCARPONE) has made an agonizing decision, one that disturbs her still-robust Catholic conscience. In a few days, she will pull the plug on her now-comatose husband of nearly 50 years, Jim (LEON RUSSOM). Her middle-aged children return to their childhood home–wonderfully realized on the intimate stage–to be with her.
Eldest son Chuck (JOHN CRAGEN) is a lawyer in the middle of a divorce. In his mid-life madness, he brings along his much-younger girlfriend Louise (KEELIA FLINN). Mom doesn’t approve.
Middle son Danny (CHET GRISSOM) and wife GRETCHEN (MELISSA KITE) now identify with Buddhism. But maintaining one’s inner calm is proving to be a bit of a challenge.
Youngest son Sean (BERNIE ZILINSKAS) is a clown with plenty of reason to cry inside. When he isn’t wisecracking or entertaining at kids’ birthday parties, he contemplates his failure to launch and injects heroin.
And to spice up the Irish stew further, daughter Alice O’Dwyer (ELIZABETH SAMPSON), has written a book threatening to resurrect family secrets that had been long forgotten and buried.
Millicent has a lot on her mind, and her mid-century barque of Catholic faith is taking on water from the emotional storms raging within and around her.
That Good Night a magnificent Irish family brawl, brought to tender and rip-roaring life by the superb cast and SCOTT ALAN SMITH’s assured direction. ANDREW DOLAN’s roller coaster play will have many of us comparing notes with our own families’ odysseys through the last several decades.
So do to That Good Night, gently or otherwise. And rage, rage that so many communities are letting the theatrical light die.
But NoHo is not one of them.
P.S. After the show, visit the art gallery below the theater. In one corner you’ll see pictures of the Virgin Mary. There’s a reason why her mother’s heart is pierced.
That Good Night runs through Saturday, July 21. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m; Sundays art 2:00 p.m. The Road Theatre Company at Historic Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd, No Ho. Tickets are $25