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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
AFTER
at 59E59 Theaters

WAR AT HOME
By SANDY MACDONALD

  (L to R) Mia Matthews, Jolie Curtsinger, Bill Phillips, Denise Cormier and Michael Frederic/ Ph: John Quilty Photography

High school bullying is a hot-button topic, and this cleverly structured two-family drama probes deep beneath the headlines. It’s a well-made play in the best sense: Author Michael McKeever (Daniel’s Husband) knows just what vital information to withhold, and for how long. Often we’re well into an emotionally charged scene before we’re finally clued in to what exactly has just happened.
 
Skirting any spoilers, it’s the story of two households “somewhere in Northeast America,” each determined to protect and further the prospects of a teenage son. The Campbells (Mia Matthews and Michael Frederic) are clearly the alpha couple. They concede that their son might be “a little rambunctious,” but they write off his latest act of aggression as a “prank.” The Campbells consider the Beckmans (Denise Cormier and Bill Phillips) at once pushy and soft – overly alarmist, while way too invested in their son’s inner life.
 
In this blow-by-blow study of competitive parenting as blood sport, who will emerge the victors and who the prey? As if the taxidermied deer head and rifle rack claiming pride of place in the Campbells’ living room wouldn’t suffice as signifiers, costume designer Gregory Gale further tips the balance by outfitting the Wallaces in shades of mole and moss.
 
Ultimately, it’s super-polite, subliminally controlling Julia Campbell – she stages every encounter like a spread in Town & Country – who may have the most to lose. Celadon linen napkins represent Julia’s line of defense against a chaotic world. Such niceties prove powerless amid the undeclared war at home.

 


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