Tuesday, June 28, 2011

'The Play About My Dad' Operates on Two Planes

Tracey Gilbert as Sallye Killebrew, Anna Greenfield as Boo Killebrew and Jay Potter as Larry Killebrew in "The Play About My Dad. Photos by Chantel C. Lucier.


years after it hit New Orleans and the surrounding area, Hurricane Katrina has become emblematic of government mismanagement and citizen tenacity.

“The Play About My Dad,” at 59E59 Theaters as part of “Americas Off Broadway” through 2 July, is also symbolic of stalled and uprooted relationships, and not surprisingly, heartache.

When Boo Killebrew’s (Anna Greenfield) play begins, Larry Killebrew (Jay Potter) introduces himself as the playwright’s father, a doctor who is preparing for a day at the office. He will be telling his stories about Katrina and he is a good storyteller. Larry is also the subject and narrator of "The Play About My Father, setting up storylines and playing them out. Boo acts as a kind of stage manager, running lights and fidgeting about with the crates that serve as scenery for the play.

“The Play About My Dad” tells its story as a play within a play – using “magical realism,” Boo says, “and (we’ll) make the whole thing sort of like a tapestry” – so it unfolds on many levels and in various timeframes.

Annie Henk, Juan Francisco Villa, David Rosenblatt, TJ Witham, Jordan Mahome and Geany Masai in "The Play About My Dad."

The “side stories” that unfold in “The Play About My Dad include that of the Thomas family, Jay (Juan Francisco Villa), Rena (Annie Henk) and their 5-year-old son, Michael (David Rosenblatt). (DR is an adult actor whose portrayal of a scared little boy is simply spot on). The Thomases have chosen not to evacuate to Georgia, instead waiting out the storm with a “hurricane party.”

Before going to the hospital Larry gets food for friends and colleagues and stops by to see Essie Watson (Geany Masai) to try to convince her to wait out Katrina at the hospital with him. Miss Essie, Larry’s nanny for many years, alone and old, refuses to budge. Larry boards up her windows and goes to work.

Despite its unusual structure, there is a naturalism to “The Play About My Dad” that gives it its wit, wisdom and heart.

Visit http://www.59e59.org/ to learn more about “The Play About My Dad.”

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