THE ROADS TO HOME
by Horton Foote
Part of the City Wide Foote Festival
Director- Terry Dobson
Set Design- Bruce R. Coleman
Lighting Design- Amanda West
Costume Design- Michael Robinson
Sound Design- Richard Frohlich
Dramaturgy- Kimberly Richard
Stage Manager- Sally Cole
Greene Hamilton- Shane Beeson
Jack Votaugh- Jerry Crow
Mabel Votaugh- Pam Dougherty
Eddie Hayhurst- Andrew Kasten
Annie Gayle Long- Renee Kelly
Dave Dushon- Aaron Parks
Vonnie Hayhurst- Mary-Margaret Pyeatt
Cecil Henry- Michael Serrecchia
Mr. Long- Max Swarner
Reviewed Performance 4/7/2011
Reviewed by Shelley Kaehr, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The city-wide Horton Foote Festival continues through this month with Theatre Three's contribution, Roads to Home, a series of three one act plays by Academy Award winning Texas playwright, Horton Foote.
As in all the Foote productions, these stories about southern ladies offer high drama, comedy and tragedy all in one neat package. Foote is master of personifying the human condition with his colorful characters and this series is no exception, offering every tantalizing situation from adultery to mental illness and more.
A Nightingale was the first of the three one act plays, set in 1924 Houston, and was the story of Harrison native Mabel Votaugh, played effortlessly by Pam Doughterty who gave one of the longest and most believable opening monologues I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. The audience erupted in laughter and applause as she drew a deep breath at the tail end of telling her neighbor Vonnie Hayhurst (Mary-Margaret Pyeatt) all the latest gossip in the neighborhood. The two ladies shared a jovial banter between them, as they folded laundry and made a pie. The busyness of the characters and the overlapping dialogue we expect from a Foote play was all there and so well done.
Their afternoon was interrupted by the arrival of one of Mabel's old acquaintances from Harrison, Annie Gayle Long. When she erupted into song, Mabel declared she sang like a nightingale, but we soon discovered her singing wasn't normal. In fact, nothing poor Annie did was normal. After witnessing her father's brutal murder, Annie acted out gunshots and became easily confused. Renee Kelly was so believable in the role. Her sudden transformation from polite neighbor to mental patient was disturbing to watch ? in a good way.
When Annie Gayle's worried husband came calling at Mabel's house, the two engaged in a bitter discussion about Annie's fate and that if she didn't control her forgetful ways, she would be committed. When Mr. Long (Max Swarner) took his wife away, the two gossips discussed the possibility of Annie being institutionalized and hoped that she got well before the situation escalated.
In the second one act piece called Dearest of Friends, neighbor Vonnie returned to Mabel's backyard where she broke down in a fit of tears after discovering her husband was having an affair, but not only that, he was in love with the object of his affections and wanted a divorce.
Pyeatt was outstanding as the wronged wife, unsure of herself and how to handle the situation. Mabel informed everyone that she wouldn't hesitate to butcher her own husband if he had an affair. Her husband, Jack, was played by the hilarious Jerry Crow, who spent much of his stage time sleeping in stereotypical male fashion and became the brunt of several jokes.
Spring Dance was the final piece in this series. Now four years after the initial story began, we had a glimpse into the fuzzy world of Annie Gayle (Kelly) who was attending a dance at the mental institution in Austin. At first, all appeared somewhat normal as Annie talked to her fellow patients. Two of her institutionalized companions were friends of her family back in Harrison. Dave Dushon (Aaron Parks) didn't speak - ever - so Annie amused herself by talking to the whimsical Cecil Henry who wanted her to dance with him. Annie refused, insisting she was a married lady. Other long time friend, Greene Hamilton entered and Annie attempted to get him to take a message to her family in the outside world. After a few rounds of discussions, we discovered nothing was as it seemed here because none of the parties involved were mentally aware enough to remember anything about their past. It was disturbing, poignant and especially timely, considering how many families today are faced with the difficult diagnosis of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
Shane Beeson's short but powerful portrayal of the agitated Greene Hamilton really struck a chord with me, being the sister of an autistic person. Beeson's body language and mannerisms were completely consistent and realistic to the things I had seen firsthand over the years. Congratulations to him and director Terry Dobson for coaching such a super performance from him and the rest of the cast. Michael Serrecchia's Cecil Henry was also well acted as he playfully danced around the stage, and Kelly stayed consistent in her role of Annie.
Overall, I cannot say enough about every single cast member in this show, particularly Pam Doughtery, whose stellar performance as Mabel was worth the price of admission.
The set design featured an outdoor patio, porch and stairs leading up into Mabel and Jack's kitchen. I congratulate the designers on this and for the lighting by Amanda West. It was all incredibly creative.
The music and sounds, designed by Richard Frohlich, added much to the plays, particularly in Spring Dance. Songs would come in and out as they normally would for a dance and the selections helped to capture the mood.
Let's face it ? nobody does character like Horton Foote, and nobody puts on a show like Jac Alder and the folks at Theatre Three. Highly entertaining and recommended!
The Roads to Home
Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street #168, Dallas, TX 75201
Plays through May 7th
Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm, Saturdays & Sundays at 2:30pm.
Order tickets online at www.theatre3dallas.com
or by calling their box office at 214-871-3300.