Appropriate – Review by Bonnie Goldberg


Arguments, accusations and apologies mark the uncomfortable “reunion” of the Lafayette family at their crumbling plantation home in Arkansas. They are gathering to prepare for an estate sale, now that the patriarch of the clan has died. At the same time a relentless and shrill buzz of insects, cicadas, is experiencing its 13-17 year explosion of promulgation. The insistent and annoying summer mating song of the insects is like the hostile environment that the Lafayette family is engaged in trying to survive.

The Westport Country Playhouse will be caught in this storm of emotion as Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Obie Award-winning play “Appropriate” shows its family fangs until Saturday, September 2. Be forewarned you may need a shot of whiskey straight as you bear witness to three siblings, their partners and offspring, as they struggle to come to terms with the death of dear old dad.

A major debt to the bank is prompting an estate sale and it is questionable if the proceeds will be barely enough to cover the indebtedness and whether there will a pittance left over to share. Sister Toni, a decisive and determined Betsy Aidem, holds court and commands the role of four star general. She knows best and woe to anyone who opposes her leadership. She has come home with her son Rhys, Nick Selting, without a husband or a job and with excuses for everything that has happened in the past.

Toni holds sway over her younger brother Bo, an indecisive and anxious David Aaron Baker, who wants the sale to go well so he can return home with his wife Rachael (Diane Davis) and children Cassie (Allison Winn) and Ainsley (Christian Michael Camporin). This visit to the homestead is stirring up lots of angst and emotions, and that is before the third member of the triumvirate appears, unannounced and largely unwelcome. When Franz (or Frank, if you will) literally falls into the home, any evidence of civility flies out of the doorway. Franz, the brother with the past litany of transgressions, a contrite Shawn Fagan, has returned to the scene of his crimes, for the primary purpose of apologizing for sins of the past. He is accompanied by his spiritual soulmate River, a consoling Anna Crivelli, to prove he has changed and wants to resume his place in the family order.

Suddenly a photo album opens a hailstorm of secrets and revelations that threaten everyone. Toni’s Betsy Aidem is fierce in her condemnation and verbal fisticuffs fly in all directions. Who was their father in reality? What are they descended from as an inheritance? Can these rifts be mended or are they too deep and scarred to ever heal? David Kennedy directs a drama that will long haunt you as you contemplate how like our nationthe Lafayette family truly is.

For tickets ($30 and up), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off route 1, Westport at 1-888-927-7529 or 203-227-4177 or online at Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Become intimately involved with the Lafayettes as they struggle to reconcile the past with the present and survive the intensely personal encounter, just like the cicadas swarming in the woods outside the door.