Ambitious But Not Always Successful

By Bob and Karen Isaacs

KAREN: Hartford Stage is doing an extremely ambitious work.

BOB:  Yes, that is the perfect word to describe it. And it is very complex. It’s really nine plays that have been reduced to

KAREN: nine one-act plays
BOB:  that are being done in three segments.

KAREN: It’s all by Horton Foote and is based on his father and his father’s cycle. It’s called The Orphan’s Home Cycle. After it leaves Hartford Stage it is going in to New York.

BOB:  The Signature Theater Company, off-Broadway.

KAREN: The first play is called The Story of a Childhood .

BOB: I’ll tell you that I thought the initial act – was artificial and not down well. There were individual scenes that did not seem connected. It was disjointed. You were introduced to a lot of people. I think that was the problem with the entire Part I.

KAREN:  I will agree with you about act 1 which was called “Roots in a Parched Ground.” But did not agree with you about act 2 and 3 – “Convicts” and “Lily Dale.”

BOB:  “Convicts” – act 2 was the best. It had the most human quality. The third part was artificial.

KAREN: I’ll disagree with you totally. By the time act 3 came around, I just felt so sorry for the young Horace Robedaux.

BOB: Bill Heck plays him.

KAREN: During the evening, we had three people play him – at 12, 14 and 20.

BOB: I really liked the prologue.

KAREN: Yes, and it wraps around to the concluding scene of “Lily Dale.” This is a slowly paced – telling a story of a young man

BOB: growing up

KAREN: in hard scrabble rural Texas in 1902, 1904 and 1910. Part 2 shows him as a young adult, called The Story of a Marriage and then Part 3 which is The Story of a Family. It goes through to 1928 when this young man is approaching 40.

BOB: I may change my mind when I see more of it. But I wasn’t enamored of it.

KAREN: I also thought the scenic design, the costume design, the lighting and the sound were all incredible. They really captured it. This is a major theatrical event.

BOB: Horton Foote had just finished this when he died last Spring.

KAREN: It was originally 9 full-length plays. Obviously when you cut them down, sometimes things get lost. But this is well worth seeing. The entire cycle runs through Oct. 24.

This review aired on WHNU, 88.7 FM.

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