By Charles Gluck
Directed by Avi Hoffman
At the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center
Unlikely Heroes More Unlikely than Heroic
Unlikely Heroes — well acted, with clever, witty dialogue and interesting staging — would seem easy to praise. That is, until the last five minutes. In fact, advice might well be to cut out early.
You might protest that those who walk out will never learn the ending. Those who stay never learn it either. If ever a drama were unresolved and ambivalent, it is this one. The audience waits, following the complex story, with all its unravelings and revelations, and hopes that the members of the two dysfunctional families depicted either will behave nobly or — conversely — will give in to their worst, most narcissistic instincts.
In this World Premiere of his first play, Charles Gluck never tells. It is far easier to pose a dilemma than to resolve it. That said, the story of intense family relationships — with all its fractures and rough spots — certainly holds the audience. Some may enjoy supplying their own conclusion. Others (this reviewer included) may be dismayed. Perhaps, the playwright should be credited for making people care so much about his characters that they exit the theater feeling disappointed.
Two brothers, Leo (Michael H. Small) and David (Avi Hoffman) struggle as business partners. In fact, the very first scene sets up the tensions between them as Leo forces David to make an excuse for not taking his wife to the eye doctor in order to mind the needs of a special customer. Sibling rivalry vies with marital strife and parental angst as they all rub along together. Soon, we will see ineffective David not only put upon by his dominant older brother, but also by his strident wife Mindy (Margo Moreland) and his feckless son Bradley (Robert Johnston).
Things are even worse in Leo’s childless home with his embittered wife Gail (Gail Gatfnrt). When Leo places a large jug of liquid on the dining room table, nearly everyone in the senior citizen audience recognizes that he is preparing for a colonoscopy. The real, the nitty-gritty, permeates the play — sometime with great humor, often with some pain. Add vegan, husband-hunting 50-year-old sister, Susan (Kim Ostrenko), to the mix and we’re ready to learn the family catastrophe.
It would be a spoiler to reveal exactly what this is. Suffice to say that in this scrutiny of human behavior there is much need for an Unlikely Hero — a title that is far more ironic than descriptive.
Beverly Friend, Ph.D.
Member American Theater Critics Assn.
Playing in the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center Studio Theater (2nd Floor), 201 Plaza Real (Opposite Lord and Taylor), Boca Raton, Florida, 800-595-4849, Tickets are $35, Performances are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, through Feb 21. http://unlikelyheroesplay.com