Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
The Late Henry Moss
Also see Mark's review of Silent Sky
Is Henry Moss dead? Or is Henry Moss teasing his sons and playing dead? Sam Shepard, one of the best playwrights to write for the American stage, wrote a wonderful script that challenges audiences to find truth or pretend on the stage.
Shepard wants the two sons of Henry Moss and the audience to find the truth. The opening scene shows Henry (Robert Hawkes) and Conchalla (Diana Frankhauser) dancing and no one speaks a word. They seem alive.
The mood on the stage changes with the arrival of the two sons. Earl Moss (Bryant Carroll) and Ray Moss (Sean Derry) haven't seen each other for years and want to get reacquainted. And, of course, they want to visit with their father. This domestic tranquility doesn't last. Ray has inherited some of his father's tendencieshe is violent. He fights with his brother with such verbosity that members of the audience gasped and seemed to choke on the torture played before them.
From the trailer across the street, Esteban (Christopher Fortunato) watches Henry Moss. Esteban hopes to protect Henry from whatever dangers may threaten the old man. Esteban keeps a pot of soup cooking in an effort to make sure Henry has food. Esteban watches like a snoopy old neighbor to make sure that Henry Moss and Conchalla's romance progresses in an appropriate way.
A taxi driver (Brian Kenneth Armour) takes Henry on little adventures to keep him from being too bored. Conchalla sometimes goes on their little adventures. At one point the driver and Henry return from a one-day fishing jaunt, which did not result in a successful fishing trip. They caught one small fish, which Conchalla threatens to eat.
Henry Moss slowly changes his life. He wants to step back into activities he enjoyed when he was a younger man. Perhaps he's preparing for death. Moss enjoys the flirtation and romance with Conchalla. However, he spends much time in bed and seems to wish for a more romantic interlude with Conchalla or other women.
This cast is perfect for a Sam Shepard play. The men are rugged and masculine, as Shepard characters should be. Robert Hawkes is capable of playing a wide range of emotion. I've seen him in other productions and he can make his characters become lovers, fighters and emotional loners.
Sean Derry, in addition to playing Ray, is the director. Derry makes the fight scenes rough and tough. He seldom tones the heat down to make the scenes cooler than Ray's red-hot battles with his father and brother.
Derry wanted the set to be naturalistic. The bathtub can be filled with water and drained. The kitchen stove can be heated to keep the soup hot or to cook more soup. In the second act, Esteban cooks a pot of soup on the stage and the cooking odor fills the theater.
This is an excellent production. The script is Sam Shepard at his best. Derry is on target with an quality cast. Adult audiences will enjoy this excellent production.
The Late Henry Moss, through March 31, 2018, at none too fragile theatre, at Pub Bricco, 1835 Merriman Rd., Akron OH. For box office information, call 330-962-5547 or visit www.nonetoofragile.com.