A feisty journalism intern uncovers long hidden secrets among small town friends in this earnest and well acted but unsatisfying new play.
Set in 1992, the promising first scene of Honor Bound takes place in the newsroom of a small Connecticut town newspaper. There pugnacious Columbia journalism intern Lisa Miller banters with editor Peter Brooks. The snappy, fast paced dialogue is engaging and crackles with the clash of idealistic youth versus jaded middle age.
Days later while playing softball at a park, Lisa encounters retired doctor Jack Conti, his best friend and wily elderly accountant Irwin Berger, and Jack’s German concert pianist wife Kay. Following this amiable interaction they all have dinner together that night at the Contis’ and Lisa is intrigued to dig into the pasts of Dr. Conti and Editor Brooks. Her investigation yields dramatic revelations.
Playwright Albert J. Repicci structures his theatrical debut work in twelve scenes of varying length taking place at multiple locations and the uneven results dilute the effectiveness of the interesting political and personal themes that are explored. The characters are compelling and well-defined but are hampered by the often portentously long-winded speeches they converse in. The convoluted mystery that is revealed and solved is only mildly compelling. Noble intentions and narrative potential are let down by the deficient writing.
The talented cast all professionally perform their roles with commitment. Nicole M. Carroll terrifically embodies the self-righteous snoopy young reporter with great flash and passion as if from an old Hollywood newspaper movie. As the editor, Justin R.G. Holcomb is technically and emotionally outstanding. He effortlessly delivers many lengthy speeches commandingly and captures the essence of the character. Noted opera singer and Boardwalk Empire television show ensemble member Anthony Laciura winningly plays the comic relief part of the heavily accented family friend. With tremendous focus, Christine Marie Heath is very convincing as the German concert pianist. Ross DeGraw has a marvelous everyman quality that well suits the role of the baseball fanatic/troubled doctor.
The confines of the relatively small stage of St. Luke’s Theatre necessitate that the technical team work creative wonders. The numerous changing locales and time periods are swiftly and aesthetically realized by stage manager Paul Borgeois, prop master Ian Brodsky and assistant stage manager Jaime McWilliams. There’s a very inventive use of slides and film clip projections that enhance the scope of the play. The very fine purposeful costumes designed by Jennie West ably render the reality of the characters, particularly Mr. Berger.
Director Josh Iacovelli strongly manages all of the production elements and the cast into a very well-paced presentation that makes the best and most of a flawed text.
Honor Bound (open run)
St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 W. 46th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.telecharge.com
Running time: two hours including one intermission
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