Priest/playwright Bill Cain puts together fragments of his family history in this exquisite play about the beauty of a simple life and dignified death. The impending cancer death of his mother, Mary (Linda Gehringer), forces the dramatized priest/screenwriter Cain (Tyler Pierce) home to see her through. The title concept invokes Cain's theory that the Bible is not a rule book but a story of a family, and that each family today must be an extension of that story. Cain refers to his family as a highly functional one, over protests of his Vietnam vet brother, Paul (Aaron Blakeley), but he's supported by evidence provided by the specter of long-dead father Pete (Jeff Biehl). The play deftly moves between homespun comedy and heartbreak under the lithe supervision of director Kent Nicholson, who strips the stage bare of everything but a few essential pieces of furniture, a door, an all-important multifunctional crate and hanging pieces of glass representing the fragmented life story -- all realized skillfully by scenic designer Scott Bradley. The acting throughout is superb, including several nonfamily characters played without confusion by Blakeley and Biehl. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; Tues., Wed. & Sun., 7:30 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2:30 p.m.; through Nov. 18. (714) 708-5555, scr.org.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 19. Continues through Nov. 18, 2012