The dangers of banking unwisely

Family Man

By Tom Szentgyorgi
Directed by Troy Hollar
Seraphim Theatre Co.
Workhouse Theatre
Review by John Attanas

There are plays that try critics' souls. Tom Szentgyorgi's A Family Man is such a play. It is the story of Jake, a con man and self-proclaimed inventor who borrowed $37,500 at 100-percent interest from loan sharks in order to pay for his "expensive habits" and now cannot pay the money back. He therefore decides to take his pregnant wife, Sammy, and his stepson, Junior, and leave town. Jake then attempts to mooch off a cousin, rob a store, and con people he meets along the way, all the while trying to avoid Satchel, an extremely verbose loan-collector who is on Jake's trail.

Much of the writing in A Family Man is excellent. This is especially the case in Act One, which goes along at a brisk clip and closes with a flourish. Act Two is slower going. However, it picks up toward the end, and is generally quite well-done. There are problems, however. While it is possible to admire Jake, a man who will do almost anything to get by, it is very hard to sympathize with him. The play is an example of almost pure environmental naturalism. Jake is a complete creation of his surroundings. Not only doesn't he have free will, he has no sense of irony or humor. In addition, the general tone of the writing is so hip and arch that at times the piece seems about to be overpowered by its own coolness.

The best thing about the Seraphim Theatre Company's production was the acting, which was excellent all around. Joseph L. Taylor was right on the mark as Jake. The same can be said for Hamilton Chancy as Satchel, and Jon Korkes in various roles. However, the two outstanding performances of the evening came from Kristin Moreu as the sweet but dim-witted Sammy and Laura Kirk as Jake's cousin's troubled wife Jackie.

Director Troy Hollar used the playing space very well. The costumes, by Laurie Churba, were simple yet very telling about who the characters were. The lighting, by Jeff Croiter, was moody and effective.

On the whole, Family Man is a well-written, interesting tale of the dark side. But its main character is so dark that it is hard to identify with him in any way. And that is a major flaw.

Box Score:
Writing 2
Directing 2
Acting 2
Set 1
Costumes 2
Lighting/Sound 1
Copyright 1997 John Attanas

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