by Amber Gallery · August 21, 2015
Recently coined the "sandwich generation", there are members of our society working through a most difficult period in their lives, where they are simultaneously raising their own children and tending to the increasing needs of their aging parents. People are living longer, having children later in life, and in most households both parents work full time. This creates a trap for the middle-aged middle class, struggling to get ahead (or just stay steady) in a work-force that seems to revere working hard for less pay, while being pulled in two very different and equally important directions in their families. Fathers and Sons is one of many plays certainly to come that touches on these very prevelant, but often overlooked issues.
Al Marshall, played by Doug Willen, is divorced, with a 14 year old son who barely speaks to him and is having behavioral issues at school. Al’s ex-wife is constantly on his case and his aging father is slowly spiraling down into the depths of dementia. Meanwhile his job performance is suffering and it seems he has no one to turn to (his one free-spirited brother is off traveling the world). Al does everything he can to keep his roles separate and himself together. Willen and director Stephen Cedars have worked well together to illustrate the tragedy in a person who loses his ability to remember what makes him happy, and can only try (and fail) to be what is needed to those around him.
We see Al struggling with how to handle his father, (acted with zest by Robert Sean Miller) while desperately trying to connect with his son, Adam, played by the adorable Andrew Chamberlain. Adam is resentful because of the divorce and at the perfect age to legitimately still get away with making his parents suffer. But Adam has a choice - continue to shut out his father, or grow up just a little faster and be there for him in this most difficult time.
Fathers and Sons offers some heartfelt moments between the generations. The play is a just a little longer than necessary due to a little repitition, and bemoans the situation rather than offering more of a satisfying resolution, but the production boasts thoughtful direction and some lovely writing in terms of content. It is a solid drama touching on a very important issue in our society.