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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Prayer For My Enemy
Scores at Intiman Theatre

Prayer For My Enemy
Cynthia Lauren Tewes, John Procaccino, James McMenamin and Daniel Zaitchik
Playwright Craig Lucas doesn't repeat himself, except in terms of quality. The skill, creativity, humor, ironies and sensitivity that are hallmarks of such other Lucas scripts as Prelude to A Kiss, The Light in the Piazza, The Dying Gaul and The Singing Forest are all on display in his triumphant new work, Prayer For My Enemy, which receives its world premiere at Intiman where Lucas is also associate artistic director. Director Bartlett Sher and the playwright achieve another successful collaboration here, and employ the talents of a winning cast, many of whom are new to Seattle, in the telling of this contemporary family drama.

All of Lucas's characters in Prayer are damaged goods, though the extent of the damage varies. Four of the six characters are members of the Noone family. GI son Billy is headed for Iraq, and daughter Marianne is the divorced mother of an institutionalized autistic son.  The family patriarch Austin is a bi-polar alcoholic who depends on his determinedly peace-keeping wife Karen to convey his real feelings to his children. Billy is reunited with boyhood chum (and former lover) Tad after a road rage incident which dovetails neatly into a subsequent plot development involving Dolores, a middle aged woman with a frail and declining Mother who finds solace in having escaped the madness of Manhattan for the suburbs. Marianne and Tad wed and have a baby on the way in short order by the time emotionally and physically wounded Billy comes home. A family get-together, doomed from the outset, sets up the play's final twist, tragedies and ultimately hopeful resolution.

Lucas has his characters frequently reveal their inner thoughts in asides to the audience, a device so scantly used in modern plays that it feels as new as it must have in O'Neill's Strange Interlude many moons ago. Director Sher elicits stirring, honest performances from his strong acting ensemble. James McMenamin is splendidly off center and endearing as the rootless Tad who finds even a family as dysfunctional as the Noone's better than none at all. Daniel Zaitchik is haunting as Billy, and he has great chemistry with McMenamin. John Procaccino never tries to make us feel sorry for the train wreck of a man that Austin is, delivering a fairly blistering portrait of a failed, middle-aged American Dad, the kind your best friend had even if you didn't. Cynthia Lauren Tewes is his perfect counterpart, as a woman who tries to be the glue that holds her family together, but seems to be breaking apart herself. Chelsey Rives as Marianne is dynamic and easy to relate to, and has the best handle of anyone in the cast on the asides to the audience. Finally, Kimberly King is memorably amusing and heartbreaking as Dolores, acing the difficult task of having next to no involvement or dialogue exchanges with her cast mates.

John McDermott's spare, wall-less settings ease the transitions from interiors toe exteriors and, combined with Stephen Strawbridge's lighting designs, creates a near cinematic fluidity to the action.

Prayer For My Enemy runs through August 26, 2007 at Intiman Theatre, 201 Mercer St., in Seattle Center. For more information visit Intiman's web-site at www.intiman.org


Photo: Chris Bennion



- David-Edward Hughes



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