John Kolvenbach's 2000 play about about two brothers in a hovel crunching through the wreckage of their lives, and the memory of their father who abandoned them, is part Sam Shepard, part Lyle Kessler. This means that there an opportunity for two actors (Johnny Clark and Stef Tovar) to Steppenwolf it up with gritty, emotive portrayals of the bro (Clark) who's lost a couple of brain cells on his way to prison – he threw some guy out of moving car for no good reason – and the family man (Tovar) who's come home, neither to help nor hurt his sibling, but to reconcile himself to lingering issues of abandonment. The rhythms of conflict and reconciliation play themselves out in a somewhat redundant cycle of crescendo and decrescendo, under Ron Klier's carefully wrought direction, and both actors are terrific. Though the taut dialogue flashes through shards of mystery, the play is so derivative, pro forma and pro formula, I found myself hoping that what I predicted would unfold, wouldn't. But it did anyway. And naming the brothers Jack and Bobby after the Kennedys is a gratuitous reach to layer the drama with with American mythology. Danny Cistone's great set captures the clutter of a home maintained by somebody plunging into derangement with so many layers of filth, the audience – like brother Jack – is tempted to plug its nose whenever that greasy fridge door is opened.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 23. Continues through March 22, 2008
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