Three brothers in a luxury box at an Arkansas racetrack on Derby Day
The recent death of a parent
A young single-mom waitress
Lots and lots and lots and lots of alcohol
Bake for an hour. Remove from oven:
Family secrets – some true, some maybe not so much
That's the recipe for Samuel Brett Williams' searing new comedy-drama now galloping across the stage in a world premiere from the Camisade Theatre Company. Featuring some of New York's finest cutting-edge talent, the play gives us a fresh and roaring take on what we often want most from theater: a vision of humanity's smooth outer surface falling away, and the collapse, right before our eyes, of what has passed for civilization.
Here, as most often in the theater, "civilization" is the family. Eldest brother Frank (Jared Culverhouse, of the hard-edged Penetrator, and director of the sprawling but smartly staged She Like Girls), the financially successful brother, has gotten that way by running numbers. He spends the first scene seated at a table sorting through dollars and bets, radiating control and calm. Baby brother Johnny (the excellent Jake Silbermann of As the World Turns) is volatile, anxious, emotional, and pleased as punch to be out of prison. Middle brother Ned (Malcolm Madera of the Amoralists – did I mention this play has a bang-up cast?), cocksure and overbearing, lives up to his high opinion of himself by winning bets as the races commence, but his character is tempered by his flowery dreams of what he'll do with his winnings, and then cut down to size with (to continue the metaphor) what we might think of as the shears of truth.