Beverly FriendTheatre Reviews

Sins of the Mother

Written and Directed by Israel Horowitzsins of the mother by Hotwitz

Florida Stage

Vivid Play about Lobster Fisherman Awash with Red Herrings.

If every resident of Manalapan, Florida descended on the local playhouse, Florida Stage, the theater could accommodate all but 90 of them. According to the 2004 census, Manalapan has a mere 340 citizens (up from 321 in the year 2000) while the comfortable, intimate theater holds 250. These 90 hypothetical patrons, left standing outside, would certainly be missing a brilliant show if they failed to see the current Southeast Florida premiere of Sins of the Mothers.

Award winning Israel Horovitz, author of more than 70 plays, displays fine artistry in both writing and directing this story that begins in the bleak waiting room of a fish processing plant in Gloucester, MA. There, men who have not worked since the plant closed months earlier, gather early in the morning to await signatures enabling them to collect unemployment.

sins of the mother by Horowitz

Vietnam veteran Bobby Maloney (Gordon McConnell), the oldest, enters and meets Douggie Shimmatarro (Francisco Solorzano) who has just returned to town to commemorate his late mother’s birthday.  Bobby knew Douggie’s mother – and rather more than merely knew her. Two others arrive:  Frankie Verga (Brian Claudio Smith), whose father also “knew” Douggie’s mom, and another somewhat dim but cheerful vegetarian buddy, Dubbah Morrison (David Nail).

sins of the mother by Horowitz

As they enter and introduce themselves, the audience gets its first glimpse of the theme of identity.  Questions that begin with the words “Are you related to…” lead to the revelation that Shimmatarro knows of at least two others who bear his singular first and last name – one a cousin and another unrelated.  The men grill newcomer Douggie, trying to establish his family’s place in the hierarchy of the small, insular town. Revelation is mutual. As they learn about him, he becomes aware of his mother’s promiscuous life. As we unravel the entangled mesh of mutual involvement, we learn the unfinished business these men have lying between them. Dark secrets come to light and illuminate a motif of revenge and forgiveness.

The importance of identity, of knowing one’s place in the world, is underscored by the fact that Frankie has an identical twin, Philly (also played by Smith). The two detest each other. In fact, hate seethes within all their dysfunctional families, and spills out, blanketing their current conversation. The interplay among the men is riveting, and playwright Horovitz continually builds suspense by throwing hints that sidetrack the viewers. Here is a play about lobster fishermen that is filled with red herrings. At its most blatant tease, Act I closes with a murder and Act II opens with a casket on stage – but it is not the final remains of the Act I victim!

The dark ending of act one is in direct contrast to humor provided by the comic elements in the second act, set nine months later. One delicious exchange centers on   Philly’s devotion to Oprah Winfrey – whose impact on his life is equated with that of  Jesus..

The gifted ensemble portray all the innuendos of the multifaceted characters:  Bob struggling with the terminal illness of his wife, Douggie trying to come to terms with the revelations about his mother, Dubbah, agonized both over his mother’s Alzheimer’s and his dad’s cruelty, and the Vargas twins who have been traumatized and shaped by their parent’s bitter, lethal conflicts.  The cast capture all this and more in a work that is well written, skillfully directed, and, due to their considerable talent, memorably enacted.

The small but affluent beach town of Manalapan, hereto famous for such noted citizens as famed criminal defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey, boxing promoter Don King, National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope and celebrated musician Yanni – really should be noted for this great theater which is devoted to producing exclusively new and developing work.  Unfortunately for the town – but happily for the theater – they are relocating the Kravis Center for Performing Arts in West Palm Beach next July.

Highly Recommended

Beverly Friend

At the Florida Stage in the Plaza del Mar, 262 South Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, Florida (corner of A1A and Ocean Blvd.) Call 561-585-3433 or 1-800-541-3837 Tickets $45-48.  Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm Running time is 1 hour, 45 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.

Leave a Reply