An Unusual “Harbor” AT WESTPORT COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
If you find language peppered with dirty words funny, this comedy called “Harbor,” at the Westport Country Playhouse (WCP), will amuse you. However, the main subject matter is not particularly lighthearted. It explores the term “family” and what commitment and belonging mean, if anything, in our rapidly changing society. It’s also about seeking a safe “Harbor” in relationships -- something that everyone, despite sexual orientation, tries to achieve.
This semi-autobiographical play is written by two-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin and this is his first play. While the writing is often clever, this “Love of Life” sit-com is not a believable reflection of our society, nor is its message profound. Oddly enough, there are some very poignant moments that make you even wonder why this work is called a “comedy” and not a drama. Perhaps the writer was driven by his many sub-plots and could not determine which one was most important -- which accounts for its counter-force ending.
The story is about a male couple, Ted and Kevin. After a 10 yr. marriage, Kevin wishes to adopt a baby and Tes is totally against it. After not seeing or hearing from her in years, Donna, Kevin’s trashy sister, barges into the couple’s life. She takes drugs, lives in a van, is broke and pregnant and is seeking to be rescued and nurtured. Donna is also the irresponsible mother of an outspoken 15 yr. old daughter, “Lottie,” whom she drags around like extra baggage. Lottie is longing for a stable home. Each of the male partners have nurturing instincts and complex conflicts about their love for each other and adopting children. They are also seeking stability in their lives. How this eventually works out for everyone is as open-ended and uncertain as real life. We assume that each character has evolved into yet another pattern that we can call a safe haven of togetherness -- or family, if you prefer -- but this is not made clear. We are not touched emotionally by any of the characters, so it is hard to care what eventually happens to them.
Whether you agree or not with the play’s concept, the acting and directing by Mark Lamos is certainly engrossing. Bobby Steggert plays the tender character, “Kevin” and Paul Stewart plays his sensitive partner,“Ted.” Kate Nowlin is the very pregnant “Donna,” and Alexis Molnar is the smart, 15 yr. old craving to belong to a responsible, loving parent.
Plays to: Sept. 15
Tickets: 203 227 4177
This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre” September/2012