May 25, 2013
Written by Joanne Greco Rochman
Thursday, 06 September 2012 10:50
There’s a good reason the world premiere of Chad Beguelin’s “Harbor” at the Westport Country Playhouse is recommended for ages 16 and up. Even sailors would blush at some of the raw language and circumstances presented in this play. Billed as comedy, the first act will have you laughing out loud, but the second act is pure drama.
It all starts when Donna decides to visit her gay brother, whom she had not seen in years. She is down on her luck and she and her 15-year-old daughter have been living in their van. When they arrive at Kevin’s Sag Harbor home, they are duly impressed.
Kevin and Ted have been together for 10 years in what at first seems like a picture-perfect relationship. However, Donna’s arrival immediately turns things upside down, especially when she tells everyone that she is pregnant and wants Kevin to raise the baby once it’s born.
Ted has never wanted a baby. He bemoans the fact that homosexuals are now not only out of the closet but wanting everything that straight folks have, including a family and children. Families are changing. What was traditional is no longer. Same-sex parenting is perfectly acceptable, though Ted wants no part of it. He especially doesn’t want a messy baby. What’s more he points out that while at one time twins were rare, now thanks to science, women are having three and four babies at a time. While Kevin insists that having a baby would bring life into their museum-quality home, Ted won’t hear of it.
It’s as if Donna’s arrival tugged on a loose thread, causing Kevin’s and Ted’s relationship to unravel. Lottie, who has been reading Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth,” does not want to continue living with her mother in the van anymore. After countless attempts, she finally makes contact with her birth father, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her.
Meanwhile, Kevin recognizes that his relationship with Ted is not been what he thought it was. Sparks fly in this well written and realistically directed play. Donna is bossy, and so are her daughter and Ted. Only Kevin longs for that baby. While “Harbor” gets its fair share of laughs as it sails through scene after scene in the first act, it’s not what one would describe as an ideally safe harbor when stormy weather arrives.
Kate Nowlin personifies white trash. As her character Donna, she’s downright crude and crass and yet she is still likeable. That’s not easy to do. As a matter of fact, by the end of the play, you feel empathy for Donna, especially if you are familiar with the ending of the “The House of Mirth.” Nowlin is a spitfire with perfect comic timing and immeasurable talent. Alexis Molnar as Lottie carries her very big role on some pretty small shoulders. She’s so believable that you’re likely to forget this girl is acting.
Bobby Steggert emphasizes the sensitivity factor in his portrayal of Kevin and Paul Anthony Stewart creates an honest and memorable character in Ted.
Andrew Jackness’ set design cleverly suggests a spacious house; Candice Donnelly’s costumes are spot on; and Japhy Weideman and John Gromada’s lights and sounds respectively punctuate the production.
This play has a lot going for it. If you don’t object to foul language, you’ll find it as provocative as it is entertaining. It plays through Sept. 15. Box office: 203-227-4177.
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