Directed by Kimberly Senior
At Chicago Dramatists The Playwrights’ Theatre
The stress of war’s effects on a small town guy vividly presented in Robert Koon’s drama
Chicago Dramatists, the playwrights’ theatre, has a 34 year history of developing and mounting new works. Their latest, Homecoming 1972 by Robert Koon is a nicely acted slice of life of life about the physical and emotional effects of war on a small town average guy. The work is played out in a series of two person scenes. The setting is in a small Minnesota town circa 1972 that finds Frank (Matt Holzfeind) as a physically wounded (bad back) and emotionally scared Vietnam veteran struggling to come to terms with the mundane simple world of rural Minnesota upon his return from the trauma of War.
Upon Frank’s return, his estrangement from his brother Joe (Brett Schneider) is referred to in Frank’s meeting with Maria (Greta Hanold), Joe’s wife. Maria is melancholic soul who feels trapped in her married life in the small town. She yearns for life elsewhere but he husband Joe is a Minnesota State Trooper content with his life. Frank gets some relief from his floundering ways in a cafe run by Darla (Molly Glynn), the street-wise sarcastic waitress. She is the sexy potential soul mate to Frank who tires to comfort the troubled former soldier.
We see how Joe continues to keep Frank out of trouble despite Franks reckless drunken antics. We also meet The Kid (Julian Hester) the young horny and thrill-seeking drug-using bored guy who tries to seduce Maria and who does a drug buy from Frank.
Not a lot happens in this drama but we get a glimpse of how stagnate small town life can frustrate those who both dream for more and who now can’t adjust to the stifling environment of a Midwest small town. Nothing is over played here and the slow pace speaks volumes about rural life in the 1970’s. The intense performance by Matt Holzfeind reminds me of a friend I had who had trouble returning from Vietnam in 1971. This show brought me back to those days when returning war heroes were ridiculed by the public. Holzfeind’s performance was spot-on and honest. It gave depth to this otherwise mundane work. With so many soldiers having trouble adjusting to civilian life from Afghanistan, this play has contemporary relevance.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: May 25, 2013
For more info checkout the Homecoming 1972 page at theatreinchicago.com
At Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago, Chicago, IL, call 312-633-0630, www.chicagodramatists.org, tickets $32, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through June 23, 2013