Keith Huff is a playwright to watch. Recent productions include A Steady Rain which played on Broadway last year for a sold-out run starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. Last year he also was seen in a very quirky yet disturbing play, The Bird and Mr. Banks, which gained widespread praise when it was presented at the Road Theatre Company in Los Angeles. This year the Road Company has tackled another Huff play, Pursued by Happiness, which is simply one of the best shows of the year.
In the play Huff confronts the question, “Can love get past your past?” In the play we meet two very strange and introverted characters, Julie Moore, played by the lovely Avery Clyde, and Frank Orlis, played with intricate detail by Mark St. Amant. These two 40-ish biochemists meet at an ill-attended lecture by Ms. Moore. Orlis is awkward, weird, and irritating. He basically stalks Ms. Moore and proposes marriage on their first chance encounter. Surprisingly, Julie accepts, with the provision that each must meet the other’s parents. Orlis says never, but apparently love is more powerful, so we then meet the parents.
Orlis’ family is a mess, his mother a woman trying to cope with her distant and moody husband. Once the new couple arrives some hidden secrets come up where it seems that Orlis had been responsible for his brother’s death. Orlis tries for a reconciliation (he hasn’t been home in 10 years) but is rebuffed and told never to return. Then we visit Julie’s parents who seem even worse off. Again the husband is withdrawn and this one drinks. We discover that there is some unspoken sexual abuse that occurred. This all proves too much for Orlis when he finds out that Julie can’t have kids. The parents are played by Tom Knickerbocker and Elizabeth Herron.