Douglas has done something irredeemable—and we don’t know what it is at the start of Robert Moulthrop’s tense, tautly written new play. We just know he’s been away “up there” for two years, and that when he returns, his wife flinches at his touch, his daughter despises him, and his friends have abandoned him. Douglas, it turns out, was imprisoned for molesting one of his seventh-grade science students. As played by Mark Lynch, he’s a a volatile mixture of self-pity and manipulation, making desperate promises at every turn. As his wife, Cynthia Foster smooths over her sadness or wrath with an edgy laugh or a steel-tipped barb, neatly sidestepping the usual martyred-housewife clichés. Cameron Hughes and Michele Fulves are spot on as Douglas’s suddenly ex-best friends. Only Anna Chlumsky falters as Douglas’s daughter, her single expression betraying little more than a severe tension headache. Perhaps in the real world, Douglas and Eleanor would move out of their suburb and away from their neighbors’ harrassment or disgust. But by locking the family in place, Moulthrop creates a singularly searing and realistic portrayal of a suddenly trendy taboo.
By Robert Moulthrop
The Flea Theater (upstairs)
Sat, Aug 13 at 8 p.m.; Tue, Aug 16 at 5 p.m.; Fri, Aug 19 at 7:15 p.m.; Sun, Aug 21 at 2:45 p.m.; Thu, Aug 25 at 4:45 p.m.; Sat, Aug 27 at 12:15 p.m.