Noel (David Adkins) and his wife Anne (Corinna May) are ensconced during an evening rain within their house which rests, quietly, at the end of the street. It's a comfy place, as outfitted by designer Anita Stewart. Anne wonders, for example, whether Noel might be interested in "fooling around." He, not aloof but just a bit haughty, reads his book. Anne and Noel are quite settled in.
Bam! A youthful, redheaded, storm-drenched woman knocks on the living room window. She is wet, stranded and seeking shelter. Claudia (Lesley Shires) is a nonstop talker who is free with opinions she easily shares with Anne and Noel. Playwright Donnelly seems to have fun with Claudia who no longer has her cell phone but must reach her boyfriend Tobin (Ross Cowan). Soon enough, Claudia is totally at ease within the home as if she is a surrogate daughter. She is a neat fit.
Tobin, after a while, comes along and, once again, there's banging on the rear window. Tobin is sweet, a bit lost, yet winning. We root for him while Claudia could easily try one's nervous system. Noel becomes, at first, expressive which yields to paranoia. The young folks might be terrorists and threaten the existence of the peaceful existence he and Anne share in their rural/suburban home. His marriage to Anne? It would be a mistake to label it one hundred percent copacetic.
Donnelly is a gifted writer who demonstrated his talent a couple of years ago when his play No Wake was well received at the Unicorn. Kyle Fabel directed knowingly then and he continues to do so with the current production. One discerns that the two men have developed a complementary process which is most positive.
The niney-minute Homestead Crossing is not a ribald laugh-out-loud comedy. Someone sitting in the uppermost row of the theater one evening thought and reacted otherwise. Donnelly's play is not loud but clever and, in this mode, humorous.
The actors are, to a person, skilled and specific. Corinna May, a longtime major performer on various stages with Shakespeare & Company, is excellent as Anne who says she is "experiencing a second modesty." The familiar Adkins, capturing Noel, evolves to the point where he finally says, "I fear I've made a mistake."
Shires' Claudia is annoying but fetching, and the actress often finds her way to the figurative spotlight. As Tobin, Cowan does well as the less didactic but likable young man.
Yes, Homestead Crossing, in terms of subject matterthe two couple motif (one arriving after the other is on the scene)is recognizable. But, thanks to Donnelly, it not stale but, instead, well-informed. The production makes for a favorable fit within the cozy confines of the Unicorn.
Homestead Crossing continues at the Unicorn Theater in Pittsfield, Massachusetts as part of Berkshire Theatre Group's current season through September 1st. For tickets, call (413) 298-5536 or visit www.Berkshiretheatregroup.org.
- Fred Sokol